AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — On Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council approved six million dollars for the ongoing broadband initiative.
The six million dollars are being provided by the American Rescue Plan Funds.
Amarillo Assistant City Manager, Laura Storrs, stated, “We have been working for months on finding a solution to bring full connectivity to our entire community, and so we have authorization now to spend six million dollars out of this first installment to really start on those areas of town and bringing connectivity, broadband connectivity to those areas that do not have connectivity.”
Rich Gagnon, Amarillo Managing Director, and Chief Information Officer shared at Tuesday’s meeting, “So the solution we’re proposing is actually called Point to Multipoint Five Gigahertz Wi-Fi.”
This proposal comes after schools across the state and country noticed an issue of internet accessibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Project Lead for Operation Connectivity, Gaby Rowe, stated, “When we began looking at the challenges of connectivity around the state of Texas, and similar to what Rich and others saw here in the Panhandle, there were almost 2 million students that we identified as lacking either a device or connectivity or both across the state.”
As a result of the ongoing problem, Gagnon and Rowe have teamed up to launch the pilot testing of what could be the answer to achieving affordable and accessible internet.
So what is the solution?
“We will convert the existing proof of concept into a pilot. As you recall- may recall an hour ago, we set up our proof of concept on the top of the police building that has a great view of the- of north of downtown. So we would immediately convert that from a proof of concept into a pilot. I’ve been working with AISD to identify students that already live in that area,” explained Gagnon.
He continued to share that with the approval, they could have these identified students online and testing in days, rather than weeks or months. Additionally, Gagnon stated that as they finish the pilot with those students, they will already have all of the ordering and purchasing done to move the project forward.
The motion to approve a project plan for the first installment of the American Rescue Plan Act funding was passed by the Amarillo City Council with a 5-0 vote.