AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The City of Amarillo is teaming up with Impact Broadband, and Mimosa by Airspan, on the project Amarillo Connected, which aims to provide low-cost broadband to Amarillo and help up to 10,000 students and low-income residents, according to businesswire.com.
According to the website, Amarillo CIO Rich Gagnon came to Amarillo 5 years ago from Palo Alto Network and recognized a connectivity divide. Amarillo’s digital divide is “unique,” the website explained, because the many refugees in the community.
According to the Refugee Language Project, “12,000 refugees have settled in Amarillo and 59% of this population are enrolled in English as a Second Language Program.” The project further explained that access to the internet is important for refugees to become a US Citizen and “contribute to the long-term growth of Amarillo’s economy.”
The release stated that Gagnon discovered the North Heights Neighborhood struggles the most with finding access to the internet. “There is no broadband available in most of this area, and where it does exist, it is priced far above the national average,” said Gagnon.
Mayor Ginger Nelson and City Council Member Howard Smith assigned Gagnon and CFO Laura Storrs to lead the Amarillo Connected program when COVID hit, according to the website.
Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) and Region 16 teamed up the City to focus on technology solutions for low-income areas, and realized that Gagnon’s vision was needed to “ensure that students and staff have equal access to education,” the website said.
Part of Gagnon’s vision was to work with the City and local partners to monitor and maintain the network so students can have access to the internet.