Mayor Keller, city officials unveil drive-up WiFi sites

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and city officials held a press conference on Thursday to provide updates on the local coronavirus response and also unveiled a new plan that provides free, high-speed wireless internet to local students and families.

General updates

PNM has partnered with the New Mexico Small Business Development Center and has activated its call center to assist small businesses to sift through information and help them access funds.

Lovelace Medical Center has opened a pop-up shop next to the cafeteria that allows healthcare workers shop for food.

Presbyterian Hospital is offering food donation guidance. Items provided to healthcare workers are greatly appreciated and must be prepackaged and nonperishable. Those with questions can refer to 311 or Presbyterian for additional information.

The Department of Workforce Solutions will now offer one-time grants in the amount of $750 each to self-employed individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Self-Employed Stimulus Payment will be available for the first 2,000 applicants that qualify.

WiFi on Wheels

The Keller administration announced phase one of their new drive-up WiFi site program also known as WiFi on Wheels. The program aims to close the gap for high speed internet and makes internet access available to vulnerable populations.

Census data reports that 73% of New Mexico has a broadband connection below the 81% national average. This makes New Mexico second to last in the country in respect to broadband access.

This drive-up WiFi program will provide free internet access at 80 new hotspots around Albuquerque including sites at meal distribution locations and at APS schools. The City of Albuquerque has created a map of outdoor free WiFi sites that is available online and will be distributed at meal sites.

This map will be available in several languages and will be updated daily with additional sites as they are added. Currently, in the initial phase of the program the city is providing free WiFi at:

  • Eight of the most frequented APS grab and go meal sites: Chaparral Elementary School, Dennis Chavez Elementary School, Helen Cordero Elementary School, James Monroe Middle School, Rudolfo Anaya Elementary School, Sierra Vista Elementary School, Truman Middle School
  • Six high schools during Chromebook distribution: Albuquerque High School, Atrisco Heritage Academy, Highland High School, Manzano High School, Rio Grande High School, and West Mesa High School
  • Erna Fergusson Public Library, Juan Tabo Public Library, Lomas Tramway Public Library, Manzano Mesa Multi-Gen Center, San Pedro Public Library, Taylor Ranch Public Library, Westgate Heights Public Library

Additional cites will be announced as soon as they are available.

Sun Vans and city vehicles at the locations will display signs identifying them as a WiFi site. The vans will allow anyone who parks in a 100-foot radius to access the internet through a hotspot.

The public is asked to remain in their cars to promote social distancing. The mobile hotspots at APS meal sites will operate during meal site hours Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. WiFi at city facilities will take place everyday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hotspots can support up to 10 devices and city officials hope to increase this number to 15 in the near future.

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