RICHMOND, VA. (WRIC) — Richmond Public Schools and local elected officials celebrated the groundbreaking of a new broadband network for the school division on Wednesday.

RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras, Mayor Levar Stoney, members of the Richmond school board and city council, state representatives and representatives of telecommunications company WanRACK came together on Wednesday, April 19 at Huguenot High School for the groundbreaking ceremony of the new WAN for Richmond Public Schools.

A WAN — meaning “wide area network” — is a core piece of infrastructure that provides a secure internet connection and phone service.

WanRACK will soon begin laying fiber that will give both the division and the community better access to broadband services.

These new connections will not only benefit the schools, but major public housing communities in the city. That way, thousands of RPS students living in the southside of the city will have a stable internet connection both at school and at home.

“Our ability to continue to provide cutting edge instruction, utilizing all of the benefits of the internet and technology really rests on us having access and our kids having access to the fastest speeds and the most modern infrastructure.” Kramas said at the groundbreaking.

Expanding students’ access to broadband has long been a focus in the commonwealth. In 2021, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to expand broadband access to low-income students across the state.