Oakland has accepted a $500,000 grant to help it provide high-speed internet access to underserved residential areas, city officials said.
The #OaklandUndivided campaign brought the internet to low-income households with school children and quickly closed the gap in access. But, some still may have only hotspots and households without children may not have access at all.
An estimated 94,000 residents do not have internet service in Oakland. That is more than 20 percent of the city’s population of about 434,000.
East Bay neighborhoods that lack broadband internet access are correlated with neighborhoods that were redlined starting in the 1930s, according to a report by the Greenlining Institute.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant, which will support us in developing a comprehensive broadband strategy for the City of Oakland,” said Tony Batalla, Oakland’s director of information technology.
Batalla added, “Access to affordable residential broadband service will help further the City’s goals for racial equity by addressing social issues associated with the ‘Digital Divide,’ which particularly impacts areas of East and West Oakland.”
Concentrations of school-age children in East Oakland, parts of West Oakland and in central Oakland still lack access to the internet, according to Oakland Unified School District and the city.
Oakland will be using the money it received to update a master plan for fiber optics as well as design broadband internet projects for underserved areas with the highest priority.
The city will also conduct an assessment to understand where connectivity is lacking and identify city infrastructure that residential internet service providers like Comcast can use to bring service to the home.
The funds are from a grant of the California Public Utilities Commission.