The City of Hopewell, Virginia is expanding our networking infrastructure to include public Wi-Fi to the city’s downtown area, public housing and affordable housing communities within The City of Hopewell, Virginia. We believe that bridging the digital divide is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, and civic engagement. The purpose of this plan is to meet the desired minimum coverage of 25Mbs/3Mbs to residents with broadband connectivity challenges. The plan will involve the utilization of the existing City owned backbone fiber, the placement of new fiber optic cable and antennas (hot spots) to designate locations as requested by the city.
This broadband project will seek to bridge the digital divide in the City of Hopewell by providing public Wi-Fi to both public and affordable housing communities in efforts to facilitate distance learning. This broadband project will also increase telework capabilities for parents of children that live in public and/or affordable housing communities. It will also benefit surrounding neighborhoods that also lack Wi-Fi access or limitations. Parents of students that live in these communities may also benefit by being able to sustain work productivity during the COVID-19 but more importantly, it will provide a critical need to access information, education, job training, jobs information, and digital literacy post COVID-19.
Why this project is influential:
This project is influential because the City of Hopewell has suffered decades of blight and disinvestment following industrial decline in the 1970’s and 80’s, but recent years have seen buildings rehabilitated and new businesses opening in the downtown. Despite this renaissance, Hopewell still struggles with high poverty (>20%), downtown vacancy (50%), and disparities in income, education, health, and access to arts and culture that have been made worse by COVID-19 The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds created an opportunity for the city to invest in broadband infrastructure and services to cover its disproportionately affected neighborhoods and to create economic opportunity. We are currently entering into phase of this project. Thus far, over 2000 residents including students have access to municipal broadband.