San José to Provide High Speed Internet Access to Thousands of Students and Residents by the Beginning of the Academic School Year

San Jose Public Library

For Immediate Release

Elizabeth Castañeda, (408) 458-0662

Nancy Macías, (408) 712-2150

San José to Provide High Speed Internet Access to Thousands of Students and Residents by the Beginning of the Academic School Year

SAN JOSÉ, CA. - Mayor Sam Liccardo announced today that the City of San José will be providing 11,000 high-end hotspots with unlimited 4G LTE data plans to unconnected and under-connected students and residents through a new public-private partnership with AT&T. 

“In these challenging times, we are prioritizing getting 8,000 students rapidly connected to the internet -- which will enable them to successfully participate in online learning this coming fall,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “This innovative public-private partnership between San José and AT&T builds on a history of high-impact collaboration, and I thank AT&T for their continued commitment to helping San José bridge the digital divide, and Jill Bourne, City Librarian and Director of the Digital Inclusion Branch of the Emergency Operations Center, for her critical work in executing this program.” 

Through this collaboration, the County Office of Education will receive 8,000 hotspots and work with school districts to identify students who need access to broadband connectivity by the start of the 2020/21 academic year. These students will receive an AT&T Unite Express 2 Hotspot, free high-speed internet and unlimited 4G LTE data plans, which would allow up to 15 devices in the household to be connected, so that students can participate in distance learning during the school year.

The Library will also provide residents free access to 3,000 hotspot devices available for check out with their library card for a 90-day period, which can be extended once for an additional 30-days.

“AT&T is honored to extend our relationship with the City of San José and its leaders to deliver creative and innovative ways to keep students connected to their classrooms,” said Rhonda Johnson, President, AT&T California. “This collaborative effort will provide San José students with a reliable internet connection to help ensure equal access and opportunities for learning at home.”

The Hotspot device lending was one of four key priority projects through the COVID-19 Digital Inclusion Expenditure Plan, unanimously approved by the Mayor and City Council on June 23, developed by the Digital Inclusion (DI) Branch of the Emergency Operations Center, which is led by City Librarian, Jill Bourne, along with a team made up of library staff, Office of Civic Innovation, and Information Technology.

“Working to eliminate the digital divide for thousands of students and families can’t happen without strong partnerships and the support of our leaders in education,” said Jill Bourne, City Librarian and Director of the City’s EOC Digital Inclusion Branch. “The partnership we’ve secured with AT&T and the support we have received from SCCOE and East Side Union High School District has helped establish resources to build out a much needed lending model of hotspot devices and free community  Wi-Fi that will connect students to academic resources through their school and the library."

In addition to the hotspot devices, City staff will work with SCCOE to identify students who need further access to other devices, such as laptops or computers, to participate in distance learning. Staff will work to provide devices that meet the minimum specifications outlined by the SCCOE.

“This school year, access to the internet will be essential for participation in education. Schools are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our community while adhering to the public health guidelines. Providing equitable access for students and families to the internet not only supports their learning, it also promotes access to services and opportunities for health, wellness and safety,” said Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan. “I am grateful for the partnership with the San José City leaders, San José libraries and AT&T. Together, we will support students and families in need with resources that can provide meaningful education experiences outside the classroom and succeed academically.”  

The City has also been working with East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD) and the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) on the expansion of the Access East Side Community Wi-Fi Project, which targets the James Lick and Overfelt High School attendance areas, one of the City’s districts with the highest need for computer and internet access among its residents. Access to Wi-Fi in the Overfelt attendance area will begin at the start of the academic year.

"The Community Wireless Project is a partnership between the City of San José and East Side Union High School District building one of the nation’s first school district-funded municipal Wi-Fi infrastructures, bringing free broadband access to thousands of district families that did not have it before and to tens of thousands of residents in East Side,” said Chris Funk, Superintendent of the East Side Union High School District. 

The community Wi-Fi partnership with ESUHSD aims to provide digital access to up to 305,790 people who reside in the attendance areas surrounding James Lick, Overfelt, Yerba Buena, Independence, Oak Grove, Andrew Hill, Silver Creek, and Mt. Pleasant High Schools.

Additionally, the City will enhance outdoor Wi-Fi access at several branch libraries, community centers, and parks. Outdoor Wi-Fi will provide students and residents in the area with a stable internet connection whether the library and community centers are open or not.  

San José has created SJ Access, a multi-lingual city-wide initiative to build awareness and provide residents and students access to all things digital: Internet, free Wi-Fi, and digital literacy programs and opportunities. 

To learn more about SJ Access, visit

Watch the press conference in full on YouTube.