Los Angeles County and WeLink Announce Partnership to Combat the Digital Divide

L.A. County’s Community Broadband Networks in East Los Angeles/Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles Will Provide New Internet Options for up to 275,000 Households and Small Businesses

The County of Los Angeles’ Internal Services Department (ISD) and WeLink Communications (WeLink) have partnered to bring affordable and reliable broadband internet to underserved areas in East Los Angeles/Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles. These areas have been greatly impacted by the digital divide, which was further heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. WeLink will offer a ground-breaking low-cost internet plan for qualifying households and ultra-high speed broadband internet across 68 square miles, where there are over 275,000 households and small businesses. The services will feature multilingual support, fixed pricing, and consumer-friendly terms.

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 County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a series of Motions beginning in 2021 to address this issue. ISD was tasked with finding ways to provide reliable broadband internet to low-income communities where over 20% of households do not subscribe to home internet. Through an extensive competitive process, the County selected WeLink as the partner for these first two CBN areas.

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, surpassing the initial goal in 2022 of serving 12,500 households. They will also offer plans starting at $65 per month to households without qualification requirements. Plans have no promotional rates: Monthly rates, excluding any government fees or taxes, are fixed until at least September 2027.

WeLink offers lightning-fast internet speeds ranging from 500 megabits per second (Mbps) to 2 gigabits per second (Gbps) – up to 20 times faster download speed and up to 100 times faster upload speed than the new Federal Communications Commission broadband benchmark. All plans allow multiple household members to use high-bandwidth applications at the same time, thanks to fast speeds that are the same for both downloads and uploads. Every plan includes unlimited data, a Wi-Fi router, parental controls, and multilingual customer support without credit checks or cash deposits.

“In 2021, I introduced a motion directing Los Angeles County to explore viable options for reliable broadband in our communities impacted by the digital divide. Today, I am thrilled to see the upcoming launch of the Community Broadband Networks, a program in which the County will partner with private internet companies to pilot residential internet services in target communities. In the district I represent, East L.A., Boyle Heights, and Eastside neighborhoods will be the first to participate in the County’s program. Broadband is essential in today’s world, yet there are severe inequities in the availability, reliability, and cost of the internet that will continue to cause disproportionate harm if we do not act. We can’t wait for years or decades to achieve digital equity – we must accelerate our efforts now, with solutions like this public-private partnership. I am also very pleased that the community outreach and support services for the Community Broadband Networks will be provided in multiple languages to reflect Los Angeles County’s vibrant, diverse communities.”

First District Supervisor Hilda L. Solis

“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. The COVID-19 pandemic made quality internet an undeniable basic necessity. I am proud that we are investing American Rescue Plan Act to expand our efforts to allow every resident to tap into the world of information, connection, and opportunities that internet access provides. This is a significant step, our work is not done. We need our colleagues in the Federal government to take action on fully funding the Affordable Connectivity Program so we can offer internet at no cost to qualifying households who desperately need it.”

Second District Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell

“Think of how many tasks in our daily lives require fast, reliable internet. It is absolutely a game-changer, and soon every Walnut Park family, no matter their economic situation, will have affordable access to it. We’re bridging the gap to the world of opportunities that the internet has to offer.”

Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn

“Internet is an essential utility that Los Angeles households rely on. I applaud Los Angeles County leaders for helping make sure that fast, reliable, and affordable internet is available to families so that they can tap into all that internet access provides, including completing schoolwork to accessing public benefits, important information and financial services. I encourage Angelenos living in the communities of East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles to get connected through this vital County program.”

Karen Bass, Mayor of Los Angeles

This partnership covers all or portions of these communities in Unincorporated L.A. County or in the City of Los Angeles:

  • Supervisorial District 1: East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, and El Sereno;
  • Supervisorial District 2: Adams-Normandie, University Park, Historic South-Central, Exposition Park, Vermont Square, South Park, Central-Alameda, Chesterfield Square, Harvard Park, Vermont-Slauson, Florence, Florence-Firestone, Manchester Square, Vermont Knolls, Gramercy Park, Westmont, Vermont Vista, Broadway-Manchester, Green Meadows, Watts, Athens, Willowbrook, and West Rancho Dominguez; and
  • Supervisorial District 4: Walnut Park

Construction is expected to begin in Summer 2024, with internet service rolling out beginning in Fall 2024. Major funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. Also, 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.  

Interested households in the two service areas can sign up for updates and be notified by WeLink when service is available at https://WeLink.com/LACounty/

“Internet is as essential in the 21st century as electricity was in the 20th. Yet too many families – and even entire communities – still lack home internet service that is fast, reliable, and affordable. Every kid deserves a great education, no matter their zip code. And every family deserves economic opportunity, no matter their bank account. Los Angeles County has made the bold decision to change the status quo and we’re proud that they’ve selected WeLink to be their partner in building a better, faster, fairer internet.”

John Paul Farmer, President of WeLink Cities

“WeLink is a new kind of internet company. We’ve replaced promotional pricing with simplicity and an uneven playing field with fairness. Our subscribers rely on our ultrafast speeds to do their homework, connect with family, and even access healthcare and other critical resources. We take our job seriously because we know that WeLink internet is foundational for modern life. We are embracing this partnership with Los Angeles County so that the residents of South LA and East LA can fully participate in the incredible benefits the internet has to offer.”

Luke Langford, CEO of WeLink

About the County of Los Angeles

Los Angeles County, one of California’s original 27 counties, was established on February 18, 1850. It is one of the nation’s largest counties with 4,084 square miles and has the largest population of any county in the nation – nearly 10 million residents who account for approximately 27 percent of California’s population. As a subdivision of the state, the County is charged with providing numerous services that affect the lives of all residents, including law enforcement, tax collection, public health protection, public social services, elections, and flood control.

About the Internal Services Department

The Internal Services Department (ISD) is a general services organization that supports the County of Los Angeles by providing a range of support services to other County departments in the areas of purchasing, contracting, facilities, information technology, and other support services, such as energy and environmental programs management, parking, and mail services. ISD has been designated by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors as the lead department for residential broadband service initiatives. ISD also administers Delete The Divide, an initiative to advance digital equity in underserved communities through partnerships, infrastructure investments, and technology resources that empower residents and small businesses. For more information, visit https://www.deletethedivide.org/.

About WeLink Communications

WeLink is a rapidly growing internet service provider with the motto “Internet by the people, for the people.” Founded in 2018 by broadband industry veterans who believed there had to be a better way than the broken status quo, WeLink prides itself on delivering consistently fast speeds, stronger Wi-Fi, straightforward pricing, and quality customer service. The company’s groundbreaking technology is faster to deploy and more cost-effective than traditional fiber, making it an ideal solution for many communities. Its urban division, WeLink Cities, was formed to maximize the company’s social impact through partnerships that build on federal, state, and local broadband programs to deliver a digital future in which everybody thrives.

Reactions to the County of Los Angeles Community Broadband Networks Initiative

“Bridging the digital divide for our students and families is essential for ensuring equitable access to educational resources and opportunities in today’s world. The Community Broadband Networks and the Delete The Divide initiatives are instrumental in expanding affordable broadband connectivity to communities that have historically lacked access. By removing this technological barrier, we are empowering our students to fully participate in digital learning, explore online educational content, and develop the digital literacy skills crucial for success in the 21st century workforce.”

Dr. Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools

“With the ending of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), the Los Angeles County Community Broadband Networks Initiative will ensure that some of the County’s households most impacted by the digital divide will still be able to afford reliable high-speed broadband internet service. Community Broadband Networks are an important part of the digital equity ecosystem and provide key digital inclusion services to communities that are experiencing racial and digital inequities.”

County of Los Angeles Director of Digital Equity Rebecca F. Kauma

“ITUP is thrilled and supportive of this momentous announcement that exemplifies the need for community-centered investment and engagements to address the digital divide experienced by historically marginalized populations in Los Angeles. Being able to connect digitally is essential to creating more accessible, equitable health systems for all Californians. We look forward to our continued partnership with LA County’s Internal Services Department’s Delete the Divide team to provide feedback on community needs to drive further expansion into more LA neighborhoods.”

Crispin Delgado, MPP, Executive Director, Insure the Uninsured Project (ITUP)

“This program is going to benefit hundreds of thousands of families who live in underserved communities throughout Los Angeles County. Families like those served by Our Voice, who live in multigenerational households and need the internet will have access to a service that is now a human right.”

Evelyn Aleman, Founder of the nonprofit Our Voice: Communities for Quality Education

“We applaud the County of LA and the CBN project for this historic and long-awaited milestone in providing the communities of South LA and East LA the accessible, affordable, reliable internet they deserve. With this project, Los Angeles once again leads CA, and the country, in protecting our communities’ civil rights, including a right to connectivity that is essential to fully participating in today’s society. We look forward to continued partnership between digital equity advocates, LA County, and service providers to ensure that our communities’ needs will remain at the center of this important work.”

Cristal Mojica, Senior Program Officer for the Digital Equity Initiative at Michelson 20MM Foundation and Michelson Center for Public Policy

“The Black Math Collective (BMC) has been a partner with Delete The Divide (DTD) and is thrilled to see the Community Broadband Network taking flight. Having reliable and affordable home internet is key to enhancing educational and economic opportunities. The collaboration between Los Angeles County and BMC will expand math equity for both underserved and unserved students, paving the way for greatness.”

Kimlin Johnson, CEO and Founder of the Black Math Collective

“Immigrants Are LA (IRLA) supports LA County’s Community Broadband Network as one more step in efforts to provide high-quality and affordable internet access to Los Angeles County residents. Last year, IRLA worked with county departments to address digital equity issues in immigrant communities with a goal of ensuring that every immigrant resident- regardless of immigration status- can access high-speed Internet service, a personal device, and any needed technical support. We believe the Community Broadband Network is an important initiative that will ensure we continue to prioritize the needs of immigrants and address the digital divide in our community.”

Immigrants Are LA (IRLA)

“Collab CDC is beyond excited for the roll out of the new L.A. County Community Broadband Network (CBN) and its positive impact on our local communities. As major advocates for economic empowerment and digital inclusion, we know the huge influence this innovative program will have on our residents, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. As Co-Executive Directors of Collab CDC, we are thrilled to support this endeavor and invite others to join our efforts as we continue to close the gap for access to digital equity and inclusion!”

Chevonne Smith and Keyonna Kidd, Co-Executive Directors for Collab Community Development Corporation, Inc.

“In Los Angeles County, thousands of families lack access to an internet subscription, depriving far too many Angelenos of the vital connection that fosters community cohesion. The absence of reliable, high-quality, and low-cost home internet access has persisted for too long. The introduction of the Community Broadband Networks by ISD and DTD presents an opportunity to bridge this digital divide, offering families in underserved areas a gateway to essential public services, educational resources, and economic opportunities.”

Zikang Zhou, President of Techup Los Angeles

“Microsoft’s dedication to advancing racial equity is exemplified through our collaboration with WeLink in Los Angeles. Leveraging data, technology, and strategic partnerships, we’re committed to enhancing the lives of underserved communities across the United States. It’s a point of pride for Microsoft that our partner, WeLink, has been chosen by Los Angeles County to provide high-speed, affordable connectivity to those who need it most. We are eager to support the Community Broadband Initiative, as we collectively harness the power of connectivity to unlock educational, healthcare, and economic opportunities, paving the way for a future that’s inclusive and just for all.”

Vickie Robinson, General Manager of Microsoft’s Airband initiative

“EveryoneOn was founded to create a more just and prosperous future by ensuring that everyone can harness the transformative power of the internet. From kids to older adults and from church groups to small businesses — everyone benefits when high-speed broadband is present and affordable. Now, LA County is teaming up with the pioneering internet company WeLink to ensure the people of South LA and East LA/Boyle Heights have what they need to thrive today and tomorrow. EveryoneOn looks forward to working with the County and WeLink to connect these communities with new opportunities and fuel hope and innovation.”

Norma E. Fernandez, CEO of EveryoneOn

“Standard internet business models have not worked for historically marginalized communities. At Connect Humanity, we believe new partnership and investment models are needed to make meaningful progress in closing the digital divide. We are excited to see LA County and WeLink partner to bring both high quality AND affordable internet to South and East LA. We hope other communities take note: there needs not be a trade-off between reaching underserved communities and affordability.”

Brian Vo, Chief Investment Officer of Connect Humanity

“During COVID, we learned that access to high-speed internet was a necessity, not a luxury — especially for students. Stark inequity has persisted for too long in American cities. It is inspiring to now see Los Angeles County and WeLink coming together to close this aspect of the digital divide. Their fresh new approach promises to help hundreds of thousands of Angelenos. This is what hope looks like.”

Van Jones, CNN Host and Dream Machine Innovation Lab Founder

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