Holyoke, Comcast strike deal to provide families with free internet access 

  • Holyoke City Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/15/2020 9:24:37 PM

HOLYOKE — In a city where more than 10 percent of students don’t have internet at home, some families will be eligible for six months of free internet access.

Holyoke Public Schools and the mayor’s office have struck a deal with Comcast to provide internet service to families of public school students who have not had Comcast service within the past 90 days. The internet, paid for by the city, will be free for six months, after which families can either cancel or pay $9.95 for month-to-month service.

The announcement comes as school districts across the state remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With classrooms empty, nonessential businesses closed and residents urged to stay at home, internet connectivity has become more essential than ever.

In a statement, Mayor Alex Morse said that the pandemic has highlighted the “widening inequalities and lack of access in our community and around the country.”

“I am glad that we have found a temporary solution to support many families in Holyoke, yet access to reliable internet can no longer be considered a luxury, but a basic service to be provided by public utilities,” Morse said. “Online education, work from home, telemedicine, and staying connected with friends and loved ones are not passing trends, they are part of our evolving reality.”

Holyoke schools, like others in the state, are rolling out distance learning plans, and have distributed more than 1,100 devices to families without them. Morse said that the city will have conversations with Holyoke Gas & Electric, the city-owned utility, and the schools about developing “a more permanent community-scale solution towards universal internet connectivity.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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