WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mayor Muriel Bowser today announced a new open-access infrastructure initiative, naming award-winning broadband provider WeLink as the first provider selected to bring affordable high-speed internet to neighborhoods in need in the nation’s capital. With federal funding through the government’s new Affordable Connectivity Program, verified households can receive multi-gigabit internet and in-home Wi-Fi from WeLink at zero cost.
The collaboration builds on Mayor Bowser’s commitment to give every D.C. resident a fair shot, and provides Washington, D.C., households with multi-gigabit internet at little or no cost to them.
“The partnership between WeLink and Washington, D.C., marks a major milestone in our efforts to close the digital divide and bring affordable, high-speed internet access to every household,” said Kevin Ross, Founder and CEO of WeLink. “Our next-generation technology brings multi-gigabit internet access to thousands of D.C. residents. Public infrastructure access will only accelerate our ability to deploy quickly and cost-effectively to those most in need.”
WeLink wireless technology is faster to deploy and significantly more cost-effective than traditional in-ground fiber. Open-access publicly owned infrastructure can accelerate broadband deployment, especially in densely populated urban communities. WeLink will begin wireless network rollout in the next 30 days. Washington, D.C., residents can sign up to enter a waitlist by visiting welink.com/washington-dc.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical need for reliable and affordable internet access to support virtual learning and facilitate remote work. The digital divide exacerbates many existing challenges for lower-income communities and communities of color. Across major American cities, millions of households go without broadband, and millions more pay prices they cannot afford for merely adequate service.
Building on the partnership model with Washington, D.C., WeLink is announcing the Cities Challenge to invest up to $100 million of private capital in deploying the company’s turnkey solution in low-income communities across the country. The company focuses on bringing ultrafast internet to historically overlooked communities to make them future-ready today. The WeLink Cities Challenge allows cities to work with WeLink to deliver much-needed digital infrastructure in neighborhoods identified by government partners. Local government officials can learn more about the Cities Challenge and submit their applications at: cities.welink.com.
“As cities nationwide work to become future-ready, WeLink is ideally suited to bring affordable ultrafast internet to historically under-resourced communities such as Washington’s Ward 5,” said John Paul Farmer, President of WeLink Cities and former Chief Technology Officer of New York City. “With WeLink’s groundbreaking technology and the active participation of local governments, communities no longer have to wait years or decades for affordable, multi-gigabit internet. Families no longer have to go without broadband because they can’t afford it. The cities and officials that grasp the magnitude of the challenge understand that this is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and there isn’t a minute to waste. Innovative cross-sector initiatives like the Cities Challenge are how we’ll finally tackle the digital divide together.”
Through the Cities Challenge, WeLink aims to partner with large and mid-sized cities to accelerate efforts to deliver lasting digital equity. Working with government partners, WeLink anticipates providing streamlined access to publicly owned assets for broadband equipment and, potentially, limited capital assistance for one-time investments such as open-access wiring inside buildings. Multi-gigabit service from WeLink will come at no cost to households verified through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and at straightforward, affordable pricing for everyone else.
How the Cities Challenge Works
Starting on May 16, 2022, municipal officials will be able to submit an expression of interest form on the WeLink website. The formal application period will be open June 1- 24, with households in selected communities gaining multi-gigabit connectivity beginning in Fall 2022.
The Opportunity for Communities
- Quick Launch. WeLink will bring broadband service to partner cities within weeks, not years. Through WeLink’s full investment, the company will connect hundreds of thousands of households.
- Ultrafast Speeds. WeLink’s service provides fiber-quality multi-gigabit symmetric access (equal download and upload speeds), without gimmicks or compromises, which means it can be a core driver of lasting digital equity.
- Affordable Service. WeLink’s service comes at no cost for households that qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). For all others, WeLink offers lightning-fast speeds and straightforward pricing for far less than other service providers.
- Local Jobs. WeLink’s network implementation will create local jobs. WeLink will hire and train technicians and digital navigators who live in and near partner cities’ target neighborhoods.
- Pathway to Scale. Ideal government partners share WeLink’s interest in ensuring every household has reliable and affordable ultra-high-speed internet while unlocking the most benefit over the medium and long terms, including matching funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
WeLink is a next-generation wireless broadband technology and internet service provider bringing ultra-fast and ultra-affordable home internet to communities that have been overlooked for far too long. The company’s groundbreaking wireless-fiber technology is faster to deploy and more cost-effective than traditional fiber, making it an ideal solution for many communities, especially densely populated urban areas.
Founded in 2018 by wireless industry veterans, WeLink is led by Kevin Ross, the former co-founder of Vivint Wireless. WeLink Cities is a new branch focusing on unlocking social impact and building on new federal broadband programs and local partnerships to close the digital divide in underserved urban communities. WeLink Cities is led by John Paul Farmer, the former Chief Technology Officer of New York City and senior technology advisor in the Obama White House. WeLink is backed by Digital Alpha and has a strategic partnership with Cisco Systems.