EducationSuperHighway is a national non-profit with the mission to close the digital divide for the 18 million households that have access to the Internet but can’t afford to connect. We focus on America’s most unconnected communities, where more than 25% of people don’t have Internet.
From 2012-2020 we led the effort that closed the classroom connectivity gap. In 2013, only 10% of students had access to digital learning in their classrooms. Today, thanks to an unprecedented bi-partisan effort by federal, state, and school district leaders, supported by K-12 advocacy organizations, the classroom connectivity gap is closed – 47 million students are connected, and 99.3% of America’s schools have a high-speed broadband connection.
Unconnected households have access to Internet service but cannot afford to connect.
Our work will be modeled on the successful playbook we used to close the K-12 digital divide, and we will focus on America’s most unconnected communities, where more than 25% of households don’t have a home broadband connection. We will begin by focusing on the following actions:
Helping states design their Broadband Plans for the Capital Projects Fund and bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Perhaps most importantly, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 created the $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to ensure that all households could afford a home broadband connection. This is “the nation’s largest-ever broadband affordability program,” and the bipartisan infrastructure bill will increase funding for the program by $14.2 billion in order to ensure it can help close the affordability gap for at least the next five years.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit, to be renamed the Affordable Connectivity Program as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, will provide $30 per month to ISPs for any household with an income below 200% of the poverty line. This is significantly more than the price of existing affordable connectivity plans from most ISPs and will likely result in ISPs offering home broadband plans at this price that meet the new broadband standard of 100 Mbps download / 20 Mbps upload being established by Congress as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Together, the Emergency Broadband Benefit and higher capacity affordable broadband plans from ISPs will ensure that most households will have sufficient bandwidth to learn, work, and access healthcare and critical services remotely. The bipartisan infrastructure bill also makes clear that Congress understands the need for proactive efforts to drive broadband adoption.
The $2.75 billion Digital Equity Act provides five years of funding for state and local entities to tackle the barriers to broadband adoption. This would be an unprecedented investment in driving broadband adoption and will enable state and local governments, non-profits, community-based organizations, and the private sector to provide the outreach, training, and enrollment assistance required to reach and connect unconnected households to home broadband services.
Over the last year, a bipartisan effort in Congress has made closing the digital divide one of the signature priorities of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and continuing with the American Rescue Plan Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Congress is poised to provide over $85 billion in new funding for broadband infrastructure, affordability, and adoption programs.
There are also no shortage of funding options for K-12 home connectivity solutions. Download our Federal Funding for K-12 Home Connectivity Summary or get started using our Federal Funding for K-12 Home Connectivity Matrix
EMERGENCY CONNECTIVITY FUND
EMERGENCY BROADBAND BENEFIT PROGRAM