NEW ORLEANS – On Monday, the City Council held a special virtual meeting to discuss school reopening amidst COVID-19.
Utility Committee Chair and Council Vice President Helena Moreno has sponsored a motion designed to expand internet access across the City and find the best approach to creating public WiFi for New Orleans. The motion will be considered at Thursday’s Council meeting.
Motion M-20-243 directs the Council Utilities Regulatory Office (CURO) to work with the Cantrell Administration and research how the Council can continue its work toward digital equity by ensuring that more residents have access to the internet at home. The motion cites a report from the Data Center, which shows that 37 percent of residents do not have internet service at home or are solely dependent on their cell phones for internet access. The Orleans Parish School Board also provided data that roughly 9000 of their students lack internet access.
“The digital divide in New Orleans has been a major issue, but now the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. Studying and working from home should not be hampered by lack of internet. Many cities, big and small, provide public WiFi, and in New Orleans, we must be able to provide this service for our people as well. As Chair of the Utilities Committee, I’m excited to be taking on this project with our Council team and the Mayor’s administration. I’m thankful to the Mayor for her support and insistence that we figure out how the get this done but also do it in the most cost-effective manner,” said Council Vice President Helena Moreno.
CURO will have 90 days from the passage of this motion to complete its analysis and come up with options for consideration.