According to CNBC, Google will provide 4,000 Chromebooks and fund rural California students to use 100,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, which are studying at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan, announced by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, will allow students to use free unlimited Wi-Fi hotspots for at least three months.
EdSource reports that 20 percent of students in California don’t have access to the Internet. According to Linda Darling-Hammond of the California Board of Education, Google’s contribution could halve that number. Google CEO Pichai tweeted: “During the crisis of the scoVID19 crisis, we provided 4,000 Chromebooks for the most needed students in California and free wifi for 100,000 rural homes to make distance learning easier. “
However, the state still needs more resources. Newsom estimates that California will need 16,2013 Wi-Fi access points in addition to google-provided wireless access points, SFGate reported. Another question is how useful a 100k mobile hotspot might be in areas with weak cellular signals.
But it’s not just California’s problem. The so-called “homework gap” exists across the United States, prompting calls for the federal government to do more to level the playing field. The FCC has taken steps to allow schools to work with operators to upgrade their Internet infrastructure, but FCC commissioners want regulators to go further and provide schools with Wi-Fi hotspots directly for students to use.