Oakland offers free broadband for families

Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Keith Carson and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan today are promoting an opportunity for low-income families in Oakland schools to get free broadband Internet service and other benefits.

The offer for the Internet service, as well as a free computer loaded with software, free tech support and digital literacy training, is provided by East Bay Connects in conjunction with Comcast Internet Essentials and Oakland Technology Exchange West (OTX West).

The groups have provided refurbished computers and services to thousands of East Bay families, schools and community organizations.

Carson and Quan will be joined at a noon event today by Oakland schools superintendent Antawn Wilson and other officials who will tour the OTX West warehouse in West Oakland, where they will see thousands of computers being refurbished, including custom desktops that are being prepared for Oakland schools.

The tour also will include the facility where OTX West offers digital literacy classes and hosts hundreds of volunteers every year to dismantle, refurbish and recycle computer components.

Officials at OTX West say they are dedicated to eliminating the digital divide in Oakland by enhancing educational opportunities and increasing the accessibility of technology to low-income people.

They say people from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds need to gain access to the digital world by owning a home computer and acquiring technological knowledge and skills to become more self-sufficient and empowered.