Smyth County Public Library will allow residents to borrow broadband | Local News
Bristol Herald Courier
Many Smyth County residents need better high-speed internet access to search for jobs, research school projects, or simply watch “The Great British Bake Off” on Netflix. Thanks to the Smyth County Public Library (SCPL), residents will be able to borrow better broadband.
Starting January 24, Smyth County residents who currently don’t have any kind of internet at home will be able to borrow one of 50 Wi-Fi hotspots and 25 tablets with Wi-Fi hotspots. Integrated Fi recently purchased by the library. The devices were purchased with a nearly $24,000 grant from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a federal government program administered by the Federal Communications Commission.
Orbic hotspots can connect three to five devices, from phones to laptops, and can be loaned for up to two months.
SCPL Director Rose Likins explained that the extended loan period will allow residents to take advantage of internet access to complete long-term school work, seek employment, participate in online training opportunities or online meetings and access the wealth of online resources provided by the library. .
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Samsung Galaxy tablets include an internal hotspot that can support Internet access for three to five additional devices. The tablets will be loaned for one month at a time. Likins said that because there are fewer of these devices, the library hopes to circulate them more frequently to help more community members.
Likins expects the program to be popular and impactful in the community.
“In Smyth County, internet access will be a lifeline for many families. Wired internet has yet to reach many of these communities, and now they will have full internet access,” a- she declared.
According to Likins, only 70% of Smyth County households currently have high-speed Internet access.
“We knew that, that there was that need,” Likins said. “That’s why we applied for the grant.”
Likins said Smyth County residents have asked library staff in the past to receive Internet access, but the library never got the funding. Now that the money is in place, Likins is excited to see “the world waiting” for residents who will now have full internet access.
The devices work with unlimited monthly data plans on the Verizon network. The library noted that download speeds can be slower once 25 gigabytes of data have been used in a month.
Since the grant is federal, the library is also required to monitor Internet activity on all lines to ensure the devices are not being used for illicit activity. In addition, all lines will be filtered according to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
The federal grant, with funding for devices and data plans, will extend into next year. Likins hopes to maintain the program beyond that time frame with or without the federal government.
“The federal government is currently considering whether to extend the subsidy. We hope the government will extend it, but if not, we will seek local funding, Likins said.