FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 10, 2020
The Michigan Public Service Commission is reminding Michigan families about the State of Michigan and Connected Nation Michigan’s statewide map of Wi-Fi hotspots for families who lack internet access at home.
For many Michigan schoolchildren, this is back-to-school week, with the COVID-19 pandemic leading many school districts to educate children remotely from home.
That’s particularly difficult for households that lack Internet access or sufficient broadband speeds because the services are unaffordable or unavailable in their area.
The hotspot map, launched earlier this summer, shows hundreds of locations where free Wi-Fi is available from the parking lots of public schools, libraries and other locations across the state. The map also contains details on how to access the Wi-Fi hotspots’ networks. While public Wi-Fi hot spots are not a replacement for home connectivity, these locations offer Michigan families the ability to access and download remote learning resources for free and without the risk of further transmission of the virus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that much work remains to be done to expand high-speed internet access so that these services are accessible even in remote areas and affordable for households of limited means. According to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), more than 70% of the state’s students use internet-enabled devices at home for schoolwork, but more than 28% of students live in homes without internet access that can support virtual learning.
Federal grants and pandemic stimulus funds are helping the state move toward that goal. But in the meantime, the MPSC and Connected Nation Michigan, along with the MDE and the Department of Technology, Management and Budge, launched the Wi-Fi mapping resource as an interim step to spotlight publicly available broadband hotspots.
“We know that there’s a long way to go to ensure everyone is connected through broadband in Michigan,” said MPSC Commissioner Tremaine Phillips. “In the interim, we have to do all that we can to increase accessibility so that Michigan’s children don’t lose out on their education during this very challenging time.”
Residents who lack internet access at home are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and State of Michigan social distancing guidelines when utilizing these hotspots, including wearing masks in public facilities and keeping a distance of at least six feet from others not from the same household.
To find a Wi-Fi hotspot near you, click here.
To learn more about low cost home internet options and discounts for eligible Michigan households, click here.
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