AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Thousands of Amarillo residents will soon have access to broadband and bridge the digital divide thanks to a partnership between the city and AT&T with the Amarillo Connected Broadband Project.

The City of Amarillo and AT&T announced a $24 million project, where the company will expand its fiber network within the city to reach more than 22,000 homes, businesses, and more.

“This is the gold standard. This is fiber to every one of those homes and businesses,” said Rich Gagnon, Chief Information Officer with the City of Amarillo.

Gagnon said that AT&T plans on being finished with this project within three years.

Through this new partnership, the city will provide two million dollars for the project through a grant from the American Rescue Plan Act, while AT&T will provide the rest of the funds.

Many people in our community already qualify for internet access at a free or reduced rate because of the Affordable Connectivity Program.

“68% of our students are on assisted lunch meaning they will qualify or if you getting federal housing assistance or if you are on snap or if you are getting WIC benefits or if you are a family of four making $53,000 or less, you qualify for the ACP Program,” added Gagnon.

This expansion will give more households access to fiber internet, mostly in north and northeast Amarillo, which Amarillo City Council member Howard Smith said is needed.

Mayor Ginger Nelson added that getting broadband services into those neighborhoods and areas will help with growth in the city.

“But how are we helping first-time business owners get established in their small business endeavors is just as important as those 1.5 billion opportunities that we had to celebrate yesterday with CVMR coming to our city,” said Mayor Nelson.

Texas State Representative Four Price added Amarillo will become a leader in how other cities can connect residents.

“I think it sets us apart in a very unique way with the opportunities it provides and I’m sure municipal leaders across the state are taking a hard look at what they can do to replicate a program I believe will be very successful right here in Amarillo,” said Rep. Price.

Additionally, the city is breaking new ground with this program. Regional Vice President of AT&T Texas, Fred Maldonado said this is the first program of its kind in the state.