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Libraries land grant to purchase 650 new hotspots

Posted On: October 19, 2021

Volusia County is about to more than double the number of mobile Wi-Fi hotspot devices that residents can check out at county libraries.

The small devices that enable users to establish a portable Internet connection are especially useful for people who either don’t have home Internet access or have Internet service, but their signal is unstable. The county has 350 of the devices, but they’re usually all checked out and the wait time for library patrons to get one can be a month or more. But now, Library Services is about to get another 650 of the devices. The Library Services Division recently landed a $385,785 grant from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to pay for the additional devices as well as the associated fees for unlimited data service for all 1,000 devices.

Library patrons are allowed to check out a hotspot for a two-week period. The additional devices, county officials wrote in the grant application to FCC, “will help us address the large reservation queue that exists for our existing hotspots and service.”

On Tuesday, the County Council approved a budget resolution officially accounting for the grant money, which is coming from the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund. The fund is designed to help libraries and schools provide residents with remote learning tools and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal fund was established as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“In this age of technology, a lack of reliable Internet service is a real disadvantage,” said Library Services Director Lucinda Colee. “The pandemic has made remote access to the Internet even more critical. This grant will enable our libraries to help fill that need.”

The grant will pay for the hotspot service for a year. Library Services would need to apply again each year to seek continued reimbursement for the cost of the service. All of the county’s hotspot devices have filtering software, as required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act.

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