City of Charlotte Invests $3.25 Million to Close Digital Divide
Cory Burkarth
Access Charlotte Public Wi-Fi

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 10, 2020) – The City of Charlotte is committed to improving the quality of life for its residents through the use of technology and has earmarked $3.25 million in funding from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund to support Access Charlotte.   

Access Charlotte is a range of investments to promote digital inclusion and equity across the city:

  • $1.5 million to provide the Access Charlotte Public Wi-Fi network on transit and pilot in select public spaces and residential areas.

  • $1 million to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Foundation to provide internet connectivity to hotspots to enable remote learning for CMS students.

  • $750,000 used for:

    • Learning Labs – services that provide computers, devices and other equipment to the community.

    • Digital Navigators program and hotline that will help residents learn basic digital skills, find affordable computing devices, and get connected to affordable home internet.

"Digital equity was a priority for the City of Charlotte prior to the pandemic, but the gap is worsened by the pandemic's impact on education and jobs. Closing the digital divide has never been more important," said Chief Information Officer Reenie Askew. "Digital access is necessary for employment, lifelong learning, access to essential services, and full participation in community life. Through Access Charlotte, we can expand access to the internet, increase digital skills, and support economic opportunity for people in Charlotte."


Access Charlotte Public Wi-Fi will launch a pilot program to accelerate its commitment to reducing the digital divide. This free Wi-Fi network will promote economic opportunity and digital equity, activate spaces and services in the Corridors of Opportunity, and enhance transit ridership. Sixteen pilot sites were selected based on community need, housing and community partnerships, and Wi-Fi feasibility:

Residential Areas

  • Renaissance West Community

  • Little Rock Apartments

  • Brightwalk Apartment Communities – The Stevenson, The McNeel, The Alexander, and The Gables

  • Mezzanine on Freedom

  • Lake Mist Apartments

  • Sharon Oaks Apartments

  • Grier Heights

  • Harmony Place

Public Spaces

  • Five Points Plaza

  • City West Commons

  • Green at Prosperity Village

  • Beatties Ford Road & LaSalle Street

  • Beatties Ford Road & Tate Street

Residential sites will provide free internet access to almost 2,000 households. The city will continue to seek opportunities and partnerships to scale this effort in the future.

In addition, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) will install Wi-Fi aboard all its buses and trains. Wi-Fi for CATS buses will be completed by early 2021. "Many CATS riders use their commutes to catch-up on work, access social media, and browse the internet. By providing Wi-Fi on board our transit vehicles, we're enhancing the quality of our customer experience and providing an essential resource to better the lives of our riders," said CATS CEO John Lewis. The use of the Wi-Fi will be free to customers.

Access Charlotte Public Wi-Fi is part of a broader umbrella of Smart Charlotte initiatives, designed to leverage technology to benefit the city's residents and businesses. Other parts of this work include the city's partnership with Microsoft Digital Alliance and the North End Smart District.