NECA introduces discount broadband programs to aid students in low-income households

NECA is introducing two temporary discount programs to help rural phone and internet providers recognize the needs of students in low-income households for broadband services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The filing, effective Oct 1, will allow carriers to facilitate prolonged at-home student learning by helping low-income households access much needed higher bandwidths or those without broadband access to acquire it. The programs will allow companies to offer:

Cox Investing $60 Million to Close Distance Learning Gap

Saying the COVID-19 pandemic can't be allowed to create an "irreversible" learning gap for students without access to the internet, Cox is teaming up with Common Sense Media to try and do something about it. Cox is pledging $60 million over the next year to help close the digital learning divide. Cox will also extend its offer to new Connect2Compete customers. If they sign up by year's end, they will get two months free, followed by $9.95 per month internet. Cox's outdoor WiFi hotspots will also remain open to all comers.

FCC’s Lifeline program providing free phone and internet confronts a crisis

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced a couple of changes to the Lifeline program, which supplies phone and broadband services to people without the income to pay for them. Since his appointment in 2017, the former commissioner has worked to reduce costs while phasing out support for voice-only options in favor of high-speed Internet. The changes are simple: Starting Dec. 1, Lifeline’s mobile carriers will have to offer 4.5 GB of data each month, up from 3 GB.

Distance learning while homeless in the Twin Cities: It’s complicated and challenging

Prior to the pandemic and resulting shift to distance learning, the St. Paul Public Schools district had already deployed a one-to-one iPad program, districtwide. District staff still had to troubleshoot internet access issues with families — and efforts have been made to help deliver hotspots and devices to students who may be doubled up with other families in neighboring communities.

Will This Be a Lost Year for America’s Children?

As students across the country start school, education experts reckon with the long-term implications of remote learning, vanishing resources, and heightened inequality.

Senators Call on FCC to Bolster Lifeline Program to Keep Students Connected

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led a group of 25 senators in calling on the Federal Communications Commission to boost its Lifeline program to keep students connected as millions return to school both virtually and in person. Since 1985, the FCC’s Lifeline program has made basic internet and telephone service more affordable for low-income Americans and has had bipartisan support.

Jonathan Sallet's Written Statement for the Reimagine New York Commission

The Benton perspective is this: Everyone in America should be able to use High-Performance Broadband, by which I mean broadband connections to the home that are robust and future-proof. Broadband competition is more important than ever because—in our current crises and beyond—America has fast-forwarded into its broadband future. Yet, New York, like the nation, has too little competition in fixed broadband to ensure that all people have the advantage of competitive pricing, quality, customer service, and innovation.

How Increasing Broadband Competition Can Address the Adoption Gap

Much of the focus in policy circles has been on how to expand broadband access to those Americans without it. This is a worthy goal, but we should not lose sight of the magnitude of the other part of the digital divide: the adoption gap. FCC data shows about 35% or approximately 114 million Americans do not subscribe to broadband service at their homes. Cost is often cited as the leading factor for why Americans do not subscribe to broadband even when it is offered. Clearly, we need a strategy to address this gap, too.

Bridging the digital divide has never been more critical

Money spent getting high-speed internet into more people’s hands is money well spent. Every dollar invested in broadband returns nearly four dollars to the economy. In addition to expanding the reach of networks, we must focus on the cost issue. Broadband is surely an essential need for all Americans in the 21st century.

Pandemic Shines a Light on Digital Divide

Associate Professor Colin Rhinesmith’s research on broadband access, wireless hotspot lending, and digital equity has new relevance and importance in light of the pandemic. “The most relevant work I’ve done is around the cost of broadband internet access,” says Rhinesmith.