By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
EXETER – Aden Yenne is like most 12 year olds living in Exeter. He’s part of a generation that relies on Internet access for entertainment, directions, spending time with friends, and, most importantly, learning. But unlike many children in Exeter, Aden doesn’t have access to the Internet at home. Instead, he spends his afternoons in the computer lab at the Exeter Boys & Girls Club searching for information on the Internet, typing up reports and making videos for school projects. And thanks to a recent donation from Frontier Communications, Aden and the other 150 students who attend the club after school each day he will be using a brand new computer with broadband access this fall.
“An education helps kids like me learn important things by doing school work, homework and working on projects,” said Aden, one of the speakers at a press conference at the club on June 22. “The computers and Internet here, it’s a really nice thing to do.”
Aiden was joined by Senator Jean Fuller for the ceremonial honors of cutting the ribbon for the new high-speed Wi-Fi hotspot and computers donated by Frontier, a company that is no stranger to serving some of the most rural, high-cost, and hard-to-serve communities in California. The press conference was the official announcement that Frontier is expanding broadband Internet services to digitally-underserved communities like Exeter in the San Joaquin Valley. The expansion includes newly enabled broadband to 13,000 households in California’s 16th Senate District represented by Sen. Fuller, who has long been a champion for expanded access to broadband Internet service for her constituents.
Through the federal Connect America Fund (CAF), Frontier is bringing $228 million in federal funds to expand broadband availability across California by 2020. The enhancements include high-speed Internet availability to more than 3,800 households in Exeter and the remainder in surrounding communities including Alpaugh, Dunlap, Fowler, Lemon Cove, Lindsay, Miramonte, Reedley, Sanger, and Tivy Valley.
“While 95 percent of urban households have access to broadband, it’s a different story in rural areas where too many communities are cut off from our digital economy. Today, high-speed Internet access is a necessity, creating life-changing benefits and enabling Californians to fully participate in the expanding digital economy,” said Senator Fuller. “Frontier’s investment in broadband is critical to realizing our digital opportunities. With expanded access to the Internet, families, students, children, workers and businesses will gain the access essential for homework, employment applications, job training, civic activities, health care, public safety and government services.”
Joe Gamble, senior vice president for Frontier Communications West Region, said high speed access to the Internet is more than just a tool for education and training, but also a new way of life. He gave examples of our reliance on the Internet from his own life, including using GPS in his car to find a restaurant where for a business meeting, keeping up with family living in other areas through apps on his phone and tablet, and watching a live feed of his grandson being brought out of the nursery at the hospital because he was unable to be there for the delivery.
“Frontier Communications is building broadband infrastructure to connect unserved and underserved households, installing public Wi-Fi hotspots to connect communities, and offering an affordable broadband service to ensure low-income residents have access,” said Gamble. “We are proud to join as a community partner and thank Senator Fuller for her advocacy to eliminate the digital divide in her district and the nation.”
Frontier’s CAF deployment with $38 million per year for six years is making broadband available to households in some of the most remote and sparsely populated parts of the state, from the San Joaquin Valley to the Mojave Desert to the mountains of Northern California: locations where it is economically unfeasible to deploy broadband infrastructure without public support.
Eduardo Gonzalez, director of community and economic development for Fresno State University, said the Valley used to be a sea of red when it comes to dead zones in high-speed Internet access, but thanks to companies like Frontier, there are only pockets of communities with slow upload times. He said those low speed spots are also low income areas where technology can help people pull themselves out of poverty. He said he will be working with some of the hotspots created by Frontier to hold digital literacy classes for parents.
Kuyler Crocker, who represents Exeter and District 1 on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, echoed Gonzalez’s comments calling technology “the great equalizer.”
“We are the largest agriculture region in the country producing billions of produce annually and we also have the highest poverty rates in our country,” Crocker said. “By providing access to information, mentors and leadership we can take people from poverty to prosperity.”
Following the announcements, Senator Fuller joined leaders from Frontier and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias for a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the installation of a public Wi-Fi hotspot and dedication of a brand-new computer lab for youth educational purposes at the Boys and Girls Club in Exeter. The no-cost Wi-Fi hotpot delivers high-speed Internet service to the entire Boys and Girls Club and provide computer workstations access to technology, digital literacy training and internet access for youth education purposes.
“We are pleased to serve the community in partnership with Frontier Communications and bring the resources of the high-speed Internet to young people who depend upon our programs to learn and succeed socially and academically,” said Galen Quenzer, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias. Thanks to Senator Fuller’s leadership, we are able to move one step closer to closing the digital divide for the communities we serve.”
Quenzer said he will continue to work with Frontier to identify other Boys & Girls Club sites in Tulare County that may qualify for Wi-Fi hot sports under the CAF program. The Exeter club is operated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias which serves over 3,500 youth in the communities of Visalia, Tulare, Ivanhoe, Farmersville, Porterville, and Strathmore.
In addition to establishing free Wi-Fi in underserved areas throughout the state, Frontier Communications also offers Frontier Fundamental high-speed Internet service, low-cost access to high-speed internet and a free Chromebook laptop while supplies last for qualifying households. A display table and program information was available to residents at the event.
Broadband availability enables businesses and consumers to take full advantage of the benefits of Internet connectivity including online education, healthcare, vital information resources and entertainment. The company is actively marketing its new and enhanced offerings that provide customers with more choices and affordable connectivity options. Interested consumers can call 1-855-901-4497 or visit https://internet.frontier.com/services to check availability and plan pricing.
In addition to its CAF deployment, Frontier — with private investment and grants from the California Advanced Services Fund — is expanding broadband service statewide, including service at speeds of 25 Mbps, to at least 150,000 additional households by year end 2018