Google will donate 10,000 free WiFi hotspots and 4,000 Chromebooks to students across California, governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday. The hardware is intended to support students stuck at home due to the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, which has caused schools across the state to shut down for the rest of the year.
Scrambling to distance learning — Classes in California are now being taught fully online with teachers scrambling to get set up on services like Zoom and Google Hangouts. While these types of services have been successful at getting students and teachers connected remotely, they still require a computer and reliable internet access to use. Newsom says the hotspots in particular will support students in rural California where access to broadband in the home is less common. Google is guaranteeing students who receive hotspots will get access to free internet for a minimum of three months.
Newsom in his announcement suggested that more of the state's massive tech companies should step up and make the same type of contribution. “This was a substantial enhancement that came just at the right time,” he said. “We need more Googles."
Google's COVID-19 response — Google has already pledged to donate more than $800 million worth of ads, cash, and more in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 outbreak that has killed more than 200 people in California alone and 51,000 worldwide. It also sent out an email to all of its employees informing them that it was banning April Fools Day jokes this year, as they could be viewed as insensitive at a time that's been very distressing for many around the world.
The company also reduced the default video resolution on YouTube in order to help alleviate stress on broadband networks as a crush of people are stuck at home looking for things to do.