San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, and its high-speed internet subsidiary Ciello, partnered with a local, high-poverty school district to wire family homes with internet to give students a chance to be successful at remote learning during the on-going pandemic. The school district is paying for the Wi-Fi service through the remainder of the school year. Ciello waived installation and equipment fees and contract terms.
According to a Colorado Futures Center report, at the beginning of this recent period of remote learning caused by the novel coronavirus, about 54,000 school-age children lived in homes with no access to internet service. Higher numbers of these students live in southwestern Colorado
This innovative way to support local communities is not uncommon for Colorado’s electric cooperatives. Delta-Montrose Electric Association also met a need in its community with its internet service provider, Elevate. At the beginning of the stay-at-home order, Elevate took every residential internet subscriber to 1 gigabit per second speeds while maintaining the same price structure.
The pandemic has brought to light the disparities that rural Coloradans face when it comes to what could be argued as an essential, basic service in every home. Many rural electric cooperatives across Colorado are stepping up to assist in bringing internet access to local communities that larger internet companies ignored because it is not cost-effective to serve these areas.