WASHINGTON – Mayor Muriel Bowser today announced a new, open-access infrastructure initiative, naming award-winning broadband provider WeLink as the first provider selected to bring affordable high-speed internet to neighborhoods in need in the nation's capital. With federal funding through the government's new Affordable Connectivity Program, verified households can receive multi-gigabit internet and in-home Wi-Fi from WeLink at zero cost.
The collaboration builds on Mayor Bowser's commitment to give every D.C. resident a fair shot, and provides Washington, D.C. households with multi-gigabit internet at little or no cost to them.
WeLink wireless technology is faster to deploy and significantly more cost-effective than traditional in-ground fiber. Open-access publicly owned infrastructure can accelerate broadband deployment, especially in densely populated urban communities. WeLink will begin wireless network rollout in the next 30 days. Washington, D.C. residents can sign up to enter a waitlist by visiting welink.com/washington-dc.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical need for reliable and affordable internet access to support virtual learning and facilitate remote work. The digital divide exacerbates many existing challenges for lower-income communities and communities of color. Across major American cities, millions of households go without broadband, and millions more pay prices they cannot afford for merely adequate service.
Building on the partnership model with Washington, D.C., WeLink is announcing the Cities Challenge to invest up to $100 million of private capital in deploying the company's turnkey solution in low-income communities across the country. The company focuses on bringing ultrafast internet to historically overlooked communities to make them future-ready today. The WeLink Cities Challenge allows cities to work with WeLink to deliver much-needed digital infrastructure in neighborhoods identified by government partners. Local government officials can learn more about the Cities Challenge and submit their applications at: cities.welink.com.
Through the Cities Challenge, WeLink aims to partner with large and mid-sized cities to accelerate efforts to deliver lasting digital equity. Working with government partners, WeLink anticipates providing streamlined access to publicly owned assets for broadband equipment and, potentially, limited capital assistance for one-time investments such as open-access wiring inside buildings. Multi-gigabit service from WeLink will come at no cost to households verified through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and at straightforward, affordable pricing for everyone else.
How the Cities Challenge Works
Starting on May 16, 2022, municipal officials will be able to submit an expression of interest form on the WeLink website. The formal application period will be open June 1- 24, with households in selected communities gaining multi-gigabit connectivity beginning in Fall 2022.
The Opportunity for Communities
Quick Launch: WeLink will bring broadband service to partner cities within weeks, not years. Through WeLink's full investment, the company will connect hundreds of thousands of households.
Ultrafast Speeds: WeLink's service provides fiber-quality multi-gigabit symmetric access (equal download and upload speeds), without gimmicks or compromises, which means it can be a core driver of lasting digital equity.
Affordable Service: WeLink's service comes at no cost for households that qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). For all others, WeLink offers lightning-fast speeds and straightforward pricing for far less than other service providers.
Local Jobs: WeLink's network implementation will create local jobs. WeLink will hire and train technicians and digital navigators who live in and near partner cities' target neighborhoods' target neighborhoods.
Pathway to Scale: Ideal government partners share WeLink's interest in ensuring every household has reliable and affordable ultra-high-speed internet while unlocking the most benefit over the medium and long terms, including matching funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Read the full press release here.