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Image of laptop computer with the HCPL Connected Logo displayed on screen

Harris County Public Library is working with Google and T-Mobile to provide computers and 5G internet to those in our community who need them.

Using American Rescue Plan Act funding, HCPL is partnering with Google and T-Mobile to put connectivity and technology into the hands of the people who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. Starting in early 2022, we will make 40,000 T-Mobile 5G WiFi hotspots for home internet connections and 15,000 Google Chromebook laptop computers available for extended checkout at most HCPL branches and community partner locations.

Already have a WiFi hotspot and Chromebook and want to learn how to get the most out of them? Click here.

HCPL Connected

What Devices Can I Check out?
Click here to find out more about the devices available at your local HCPL branch and partner locations

Devices Descriptions:

Inseego 5G MiFi® M2000

T-Mobile's Inseego 5G MiFi® M2000 hotspots give you wireless access to the internet for laptops, desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. This T-Mobile WiFi hotspot lets you work, learn and play seamlessly with fast 5G speeds on America's largest 5Gfront view of Inseego 5G MiFi Hotspot network. Connect up to 22 WiFi-enabled devices wirelessly or securely tether a single connection using the USB Type-C port. The battery will keep you up and running all day, plus you can use it as a battery bank to charge your phone, tablet, or other mobile devices. WiFi 6, WPA3 and Enterprise Grade VPN support ensure your data is protected and secure.

Full description of Inseego 5G MiFi Hotspot

 

 Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 EducationChromebook 3100 image showing different opening configurations

Chromebooks are set up to be easy to use with a browser-based user experience. They are loaded with Google Chrome extensions and support multiple languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese. They offer Child-safe internet browsing and come with a quick-start guide.

Full description of Chromebook 3100

Who Can Borrow a Chromebook laptop and T-Mobile WiFi hotspot?
Click here to learn about who qualifies, how to check out Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots and how to get a library card if you do not have one.

You qualify to borrow a Chromebook and/or WiFi hotspot if:

You have a valid Harris County Public Library card, and you meet ONE of the two following conditions:

You do not have internet service or have low-speed internet service where you live. 

OR

You do not have a device (laptop or desktop computer) that meets your work, school, or personal needs. Smartphones do not count as connected devices.

If you meet the requirements, visit any HCPL branch library, or community partner site. A staff member will assist you in completing certification and checkout.

Limits & Restrictions

Device checkout is limited to:

  • One (1) Chromebook per library card
  • One (1) WiFi hotspot per household or family (Up to 22 devices can connect to a single hotspot).

A parent or guardian must be present at check out for children under 13 years.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Several organizations in Harris County including some area school districts have received ECF funds to provide laptop computers and/or WiFi hotspots to the public. If you have received a laptop computer or WiFi hotspot from any other ECF-funded organization, you are NOT eligible to borrow the same device from HCPL or any of its partners.

Do I Qualify?

    Before checkout, you will be asked a few simple questions about your current internet access to verify that you qualify.

    Simply put:

    if you do not have internet access where you live or do not have a computer, YOU QUALIFY.

    If you are not able to do all of the things you need and want to do because your internet service or computer is too slow or too unreliable, YOU QUALIFY

    You will not be asked to prove you need a device. There are no income restrictions. All you need is an HCPL library card.

    Get a Library Card

    Chromebooks and T-Mobile 5G MiFi hotspot can be checked out using any HCPL library card account including Children's Kids Know cards (Parent or guardian must be present for children under 13 years to check out a device).

    If you do not have an HCPL library card,

    Apply for an iKnow Digital Access Card online or apply for a full-service HCPL Knowledge Card at any HCPL branch library
    Library Card Application Form | Solicitud de Tarjeta de Biblioteca

    Where Can I Borrow a Laptop or WiFi Hotspot?
    Click here for a map of all locations across Harris County

    As of May 2022, most HCPL locations still have T-Mobile WiFi Hotspots available for check out while supplies last. Due to overwhelming demand, we no longer have any Chromebooks available at any library locations.

    The TMC-Library and Library Admin locations do not have any HCPL Connected Devices available. 

    Hotspot devices may also available Pasadena Public Library Locations.

    What Can I Do with the Laptop and WiFi Hotspot?
    The sky's the limit! Learn the basics, then keep on learning. Click here for tools and resources to help you get the most out of your laptop.

    Visit HCPL Connected for setup instructions for your T-Mobile 5G WiFi hotspot, basic computer how-to videos, contact information for troubleshooting problems, and more.

    Learn @ HCPL: Many HCPL branches offer free computer classes for beginners and intermediate users. 

    Computer Classes @ HCPL

    Learn Online: HCPL has a variety of online resources to help you learn computer basics and beyond.

    HCPL Connected Playlist

    HCPL Youtube Computer Basics

    Online Research and Learn Tools

    What Is HCPL Connected About?
    Click here to find our more about HCPL's mission.

    More and more, digital devices and the skills to use them are necessary to fully participate in society. Those without reliable access to the internet are at a severe disadvantage in education, the workforce, and private life. Students without internet or the devices to access it face difficulties completing homework assignments compared to those with home access. Similarly, adults and households without internet or without highspeed service encounter increased costs including loss of work time and limited services.

    HCPL is committed to working with private sector partners like T-Mobile and Google to provide internet access and devices to those in our community who do not have them. But wider access to the internet alone is not enough to bridge educational and quality-of-life gaps. HCPL will provide ongoing digital literacy education both in our branches and online to help Harris County residents keep pace with the ever-evolving technological landscape.

    Using American Rescue Plan Act funding, HCPL is partnering with T-Mobile and Google to put connectivity and technology into the hands of the people who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. We will make 40,000 T-Mobile 5G MiFi hotspots for home internet connections and 15,000 Google Chromebook laptop computers available for extended check out to anyone who needs them.

    Who Is Helping the Library with the HCPL Connected project?
    Click here to find out about our partners who made this project possible.

    Google

    Shortly after developing and releasing the Chrome browser in 2008, Google's Chrome team, today a dedicated organization of nearly 2000 employees within Google, decided to create the world's mostLogo - Google secure, easy to use, and maintain the operating system (OS) in the world -- Chrome OS. Google continues to maintain, improve, and distribute Chrome OS updates (still every six weeks) and also leads partnerships with all the largest Chromebook original equipment manufacturers (OEM). Chrome OS device integration, compliance, security, and administration compatibility is accomplished via Google's web-accessible and cloud-based device management capability -- providing robust and comprehensive control of device and user activities. This year, working closely with the management and technical team at Harris County Public Library, Google teamed with Dell and CDW to identify and package a Chromebook device that matched the HCPL's stringent Emergency Connectivity Fund initiative requirements -- one that would be inexpensive yet very robust and reliable, resourceful yet highly secure and compliant, and familiar to users of all types.

    T-Mobile

    T-Mobile has long been committed to using our 5G network, scale, and resources for good by helping to build a moreT-Mobile Logo connected and equitable future for all. Supporting customers like Harris County Public Library in an initiative aimed at breaking down barriers to access is a great example of how we can open even more doors of opportunity by coming together. Extending opportunities to make it easier for people to wirelessly connect to school and work helps to further bridge the digital divide.

     

     

    HCPL Connected logo

    More Frequently Asked Questions

    How long can I keep the 5G MiFi hotspot and Chromebook?

    HCPL is making the Chromebooks and T-Mobile 5G WiFi hotspots available for extended checkouts. They will automatically renew, so you can take your time to learn and get comfortable with the devices.

    The checkout period will be from the date of checkout to 6/30/2022. The T-Mobile 5G WiFi service will end on that date. If additional funding becomes available, HCPL may be able to recertify those devices to extend service beyond that date.

    You can return your items at any time to any HCPL location.

    What documents do I need to show?

    All you need is a valid Harris County Public Library card. See the "Who Can Borrow a Chromebook and WiFi hotspot?" section above for library card options.

    When you visit an HCPL branch library or partner site, a staff member will help you complete a brief form that certifies that you either do not currently have an internet-capable device or do not have access to high-speed internet where you live.

    You do not need to provide proof of your qualification other than those required to obtain an HCPL library card if you do not already have one.

    How do I checkout a 5G MiFi hotspot or Chromebook?

    Visit any HCPL branch location or partner site and bring your HCPL library card if you have one or apply for one onsite. A staff member will help you complete the borrowing procedure. In most cases, you will be able to take a device with you that day.

    See the "Where Can I Check Out Laptops and WiFi Hotspots?" section above for more information. All Harris County Public Library branches have both laptops and WiFi hotspots while supplies last. Not all partner sites have both laptops and WiFi hotspots for borrowing. See partner websites and promotional materials for details.

    Can children check out Chromebooks and hotspots?

    Yes. Any HCPL library cardholder can check out a Chromebook or WiFi hotspot. However, a parent or guardian must be present at check out for children under 13 years of age

    I do not currently have email or phone number. Can I check out these devices?

    Yes. You do not need a phone number or email address to check out a T-Mobile 5G WiFi hotspot or a Chromebook. Free email accounts are available at gmail.com.

    Who do I contact with questions about using the computer?

    A quick start guide packet will be given at checkout to help you with common questions about using the device.

    Visit www.hcpl.net/connected  for video how-tos, links to learning resources and class schedules at HCPL branches.

    HCPL staff may also be able to help with basic computer use and common software questions in person at all HCPL branches.

    HCPL cannot provide in-depth troubleshooting or technical support. Visit the HCPL Connected page for information about technical support.

    Who should I call for technical support?

    Many HCPL staff members can assist users with basic computing and common software questions. HCPL cannot provide in-depth troubleshooting or technical support.

    Visit T-Moblie 5G WiFi Technical Support, or call toll free 1-844-341-4834

    Visit Chromebook Technical Support Online

     

    What if I break or lose the equipment?

    If your device is lost or stolen, contact the library as soon as possible.

    HCPL Phone Numbers

    Damaged devices should be returned to an HCPL location.

    You will not be charged for lost, stolen, or damaged devices. Replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged devices will depend upon availability and is at the discretion of HCPL staff.
     

    Do I need an HCPL library card?

    Yes, you must have a Harris County Public Library card. 

    HCPL staff or partner will help you apply for an HCPL Connected Card when you come to check out a device.

    OR

    you can apply now for an HCPL iKnow Card now. 

    Apply for an iKnow Digital Access Card online

    OR

    Apply for a full-service HCPL Knowledge Card at any HCPL branch library. 
    Library Card Application Form | Solicitud de Tarjeta de Biblioteca

    Who qualifies to checkout these devices?

    You will not be asked to prove that your internet service or device does not meet your needs. If you are unable to do the things you need and want to do online because

    • You do not have highspeed internet service where you live
    • You do not have an internet-capable computer or laptop
    • The internet service where you live is slow or unreliable
    • Your computer or laptop is slow or unreliable

    YOU CAN BORROW A LAPTOP AND WIFI HOTSPOT.

    Definitions

    You qualify if one of the following statements is true:

    1. you lack the connectivity where you live to sufficiently connect to the Internet (defined as less than 25 megabytes per second >25mbps)

    OR

    1. you do not currently have a connected device. (smartphones DO NOT count as connected devices)

    There are no income limitations to qualify for – someone from any income level can qualify if they meet one of requirements listed above.  

    Any Harris County Public Library cardholder who qualifies can borrow a laptop, including those who have children's cards. However, a parent or guardian must be present at check out for children under 13 years of age. 

    How Do I Find Out About My Internet Speed?

    If you cannot download large files or cannot stream videos, your device and/or internet connection may be the issue. Highspeed connectivity is defined as greater than 25 megabytes per second (25 Mbps). You can test your connection for free at www.speedtest.net

    What is the Emergency Connectivity Fund?

    The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is using $7.7 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding through the FCC/USAC E-rate program. Schools and libraries across the country were invited to send in proposals. The goal of the program, for libraries, is to connect otherwise unconnected patrons to the internet in their homes. While the school side of the program is focused on connecting students to eliminate the homework gap, the library program is designed to connect library patrons of all ages. HCPL applied to receive 15,000 Chromebooks and 40,000 T-Mobile WiFi devices.

    Library Services Blog View HCPL Blog >

    Here at the Harris County Public Library, we truly believe that the library is for everyone, which is why we are proud to participate in the Research by Mail program. When we aren’t running programs and helping you find the information you need, HCPL librarians receive reference questions by mail from people incarcerated in Texas prisons, and we answer them just the same as we would answer reference questions from anyone who would come up to our desks here at the library.