WATSONVILLE — People who spend time in Watsonville Plaza eating their lunch, talking to friends or just relaxing in the sun can now engage in a new activity: surfing the internet.
That comes thanks to free wireless internet, or Wi-Fi, provided by Cruzio internet company, the City of Watsonville, Pajaro Valley Unified School District and Digital NEST.
The service comes as Cruzio has recently expanded its service area to cover most of Watsonville, including new high-speed wireless hubs at the Watsonville Municipal Airport and Watsonville City Hall.
“When we ask local businesses what they need to be successful, one answer we keep getting is the need for better internet speeds,” said Watsonville Assistant City Manager Matt Huffaker. “The city has made major strides toward becoming the most friendly city to do businesses with, and Watsonville continues to be at the forefront when it comes to fiber technology.”
PVUSD Director of Technology Services Tim Landeck said the service is a way to help students bridge the “homework gap.”
“Many PVUSD families don’t have a reliable internet connection in the home which limits students’ access to 21st century learning,” he said. “Free, reliable wireless access in the Watsonville Plaza will assist students and their families who live close to downtown with easier access to online resources including the Footsteps to Brilliance early literacy resource recently rolled out by PVUSD for the community.”
Launched in 2014, Digital NEST provides a wide range of career development and tech skill training to young people in Watsonville.
“Providing access to the internet is the first step towards providing equal access to information and opportunities to the broad community of Watsonville,” said founder and Executive Director Jacob Martinez. “This plaza is at the heart of the community and will allow every citizen of Watsonville an access point to the digital world regardless of their personal income.”
The Wi-Fi in the plaza will be free and open to the public 24 hours a day.
The free Wi-Fi service will begin Feb. 16. On that day, organizers will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and light reception in the plaza at 5 p.m.
For information, visit SantaCruzFiber.com.