WINONA – Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc. (HBC) will provide two months of free broadband service to eligible low-income households, as a number of Minnesota and Wisconsin schools announce closures amid concerns about COVID-19.

In a news release from the company, HBC President Dan Pecarina said Friday they are taking measures to provide free Internet access to eligible low-income families, who are new customers, and for free community Wi-Fi hotspots.

“HBC is working with Winona Area Public Schools and other southeast Minnesota school districts, to accelerate the school system’s referrals of local low-income families to ensure every student has access to vital communications services through the HBC Internet Assistance Program,” Pecarina said. “Families who live in the company’s service area can sign up for the program through the school system.”

HBC’s Internet Assistance Program for low-income families has been in place for 10 years with more than with more than seven school districts participating in the program.

HBC is prepared to move quickly to install broadband service to new subscriber families to ensure students aren’t left behind as schools suspend classes and move to on-line learning amidst the COVID-19 crisis.