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'Completely lacking' | Frayser educators on internet connectivity challenges as Memphis mayor discusses issue during forum

Mayor Jim Strickland joined other U.S. mayors for a forum Tuesday on how to improve broadband access and reliability to more households.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Tuesday afternoon, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland laid out the challenges - and planned internet improvement citywide - during a forum with other mayors.

It's an ongoing problem for those who live and work in Frayser, one of the city's most unreliable areas for broadband and connectivity.

"It's so needed, just to be on the cutting edge of what we are trying to do here," Westside Middle School Principal Dr. Rodney Peterson said.

For Dr. Peterson, the lack of reliably fast Internet continues to slow down his students - and the Frayser community's - full potential.

"All of us have the same challenges. The school next door, here, the businesses around here, so we are all facing the same issues," Dr. Peterson added.

Dr. Peterson said slower speeds impacted development during last year's virtual learning, and into this year.

"Once you have problems with that, they lose attention and it's kind of hard to complete the assignments," Dr. Peterson said.

"We have a long way to go because it costs a lot," Mayor Strickland.

Tuesday during a national forum, Mayor Strickland addressed broadband access challenges and solutions, especially in areas such as Frayser with fewer families connected.

"Our two goals is number one, fiber to every premises, and two, affordable service," Mayor Strickland said.

Last week, the Memphis City Council approved $15 million in approved federal dollars to improve broadband citywide.

Despite that, Mayor Strickland and Dr. Peterson are aware much more is needed.

"It is going to cost tens of millions of dollars to do what we need and the philanthropic community in Memphis is hand in hand with us," Mayor Strickland said.

"You can drive out of this parking lot and as soon as you drive out, you lose all connection," Dr. Peterson added.

Mayor Strickland added Tuesday during that forum that 20% of Memphians don't have any internet access and that of the 80% who do, most of it is mediocre, less than topline service.