Free Wi-Fi Zones Opening Along Front Range For Remote Learning

Working Parents Child Care Adam Perry
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Adam Perry works on his laptop while his daughter Sidney Perry-Joyce does her homework on the front porch of their home in Boulder, Monday, May 18, 2020.

When school went online because of the coronavirus pandemic, many children had little or no access to reliable internet for school. By the end of this year, Comcast along with local leaders will install Wi-Fi in more than 20 locations.

The Wi-Fi areas, called Lift Zones, will be in places like parks and recreation centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, Girls Inc. and other nonprofit and community centers. Thousands of low-income students will be able to get online, attend classes and do their homework. The sites are expected to stay open for the next three years.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, students without access to broadband and computers experienced a homework gap that posed barriers to educational opportunity. Now, students need access to simply participate in the remote learning environment,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a press release. “Access is just one piece of bridging the digital divide. Knowing what to do online, how to do it safely, and how to protect children and families from online fraud and abuse is of utmost importance, and I am proud to partner with Comcast on these efforts.”

The Comcast system has a content filter to block students from unwanted websites and content, and there's a support number and email for students and their caretakers if they have questions, according to a spokesperson for Comcast. They also have a service called SecurityEdge, which ensures students' information is protected.

The Lift Zones, which are part of  Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, will be installed in communities along the Front Range and statewide in Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. More sites will be added in 2021. A full list of the sites can be found on the Comcast Colorado website. The initiative provides internet for the next three years.

"Giving students a safe place at city of Aurora recreation centers to access the Wi-Fi they need is essential for ensuring Aurora's kids continue to learn despite the pandemic," said Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman in the press release. "We are grateful to Comcast for partnering with us on this valuable service to the community."

Comcast and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser also announced $150,000 worth of grants and resources to better support internet safety, digital literacy and laptops/technology in the communities.

“Connecting people to what matters most is what Comcast is all about,” said Amy Lynch, Sr. Vice President Comcast Mountain West Region. “Comcast is proud of the partnerships and collaboration with our local governments, schools, businesses and the nonprofit community to launch Lift Zone centers throughout our service area in Colorado to expand the options for safe, reliable Internet access to even more people in our communities so they can learn, work and achieve their potential.”