Los Angeles County has signed an agreement with WeLink Communications to bring new internet options for up to 275,000 households and small businesses to underserved areas in the California county.

The county said the Los Angeles County Community Broadband Networks (CBN) initiative was created to help address the hundreds of thousands of households in the county estimated to be without home internet service. The initiative will be managed by the County of Los Angeles’ Internal Services Department (ISD).

Back in 2021, the county’s Board of Supervisors tasked ISD with finding ways to provide reliable broadband internet to low-income communities where over 20 percent of households do not subscribe to home internet. Through a competitive process, the county selected WeLink as the partner for these first two CBN areas.

The county explained that WeLink will offer a low-cost home internet plan starting at $25 per month to 50,000 qualified households in South Los Angeles and East Los Angeles/Boyle Heights. The company will also offer plans starting at $65 per month to households without qualification requirements.

Funding for the initiative comes from the Federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act. Additional funding for this project has been provided in part through a grant for Local Agency Technical Assistance from a program administered by the California Public Utilities Commission.

“Today, we reaffirm L.A. County’s commitment to ending the digital divide by bringing a truly affordable, world-class broadband option to communities in South LA that have long experienced limited or no internet access,” said Second District Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “The COVID-19 pandemic made quality internet an undeniable basic necessity. I am proud that we are investing American Rescue Plan Act [funding] to expand our efforts to allow every resident to tap into the world of information, connection, and opportunities that internet access provides.”

WeLink offers speeded ranging from 500 megabits per second (Mbps) to 2 gigabits per second (Gbps), which the county says is up to 20 times faster download speed and up to 100 times faster upload speed than the new Federal Communications Commission broadband benchmark. Every plan also includes unlimited data, a Wi-Fi router, parental controls, and multilingual customer support without credit checks or cash deposits.

County leaders said construction is expected to begin this summer, with internet service rolling out beginning in the fall.

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