Verizon has become the third company to participate in a recently announced initiative to provide increased internet access to Arkansas students for online learning.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Wednesday, July 29 that Verizon would be joining AT&T and T-Mobile as a provider for devices and data points. The state has signed agreements with the three companies to purchase the data points at reduced costs.
“We’re grateful for their joining in that participating,” Hutchinson said in reference to Verizon’s participation in the online learning effort.
On Monday, July 27, Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key unveiled the plan to buy Wi-Fi access points and data plans for school districts. Using $10 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, officials will be able to purchase approximately 20,000 devices with data plans to be provided to students free of charge.
“One of the key ingredients, we know, is that you have to have access to internet, even in the rural areas of the state, and there’s been a gap there because they don’t have that coverage,” Hutchison said on Monday.
The Wi-Fi access points will be distributed to school districts across Arkansas and will be allocated based on enrollment numbers, and the districts will distribute the points as needed. The cellular providers have also agreed to work with school districts, allowing them to purchase additional devices and data plans at the same reduced cost the state negotiated.
According to figures provided on Monday, the cost per student will be approximately $20.