top of page
Working from Home

BLOG
TWTA

THINGS WE'RE THINKING ABOUT (TWTA).

Our Things We’re Thinking About (™) (TWTA) Blog is intended to not only share information and resources, but primarily to spark civic dialogue and civic education. Just as the blog name implies, what we share are things we at Strong & Starlike are thinking about, discussing, and researching. What is shared is not intended to serve as any type of counseling or legal advice.

Hello! Welcome to my corner of the internet. My name is Lenora and I am the Chief Operating Officer here at Strong & Starlike Consulting, Inc. In this series I intend to explore a variety of topics through the lens of equity and access. As I dig into certain topics I expect to deepen my knowledge and challenge my own assumptions on various topics. I welcome you to join me on the journey.


Are there benefits to internet access?

Having access to high speed broadband internet allows me to earn income through remote work, communicate with friends living in other countries, and purchase goods and services locally or from across the globe.  Most importantly, the internet serves as an endless resource for knowledge and education. But what about those who do not have access to broadband services? Is access to the internet becoming a fundamental right? If so, what are the minimum requirements for ensuring all have access?


Who does not have internet access and why?

An estimated 42 million Americans do not have access to broadband services. (Campisi) This is known as the “digital divide” and the U.S. federal government recognizes internet access as a critical issue. (Von Ah). The recent COVID-19 pandemic exposed how crucial access to broadband services are in education, health, and employment industries to name a few. (“Broadband: National Strategy Needed to Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Digital Divide”) Without reliable internet services, children forced to school at home during the lockdowns were unable to continue their education. (Campisi) Adult workers forced to stay at home during the lockdowns were unable to access employment opportunities due to lack of internet services. (Campisi) So why are there so many people without the internet? Lack of internet is usually an affordability or access issue that mostly impacts rural households and low-wage workers . (Campisi and Von Ah)  


How do we help close the digital divide?

As a company we like to highlight ways people can access the tools and information they need to thrive. I believe the internet is a critical tool. How do we make the internet affordable and accessible to as many people as possible? The federal government has been working to close the digital divide since the early 2000s. (Campisi) In 2015, the Obama Administration launched ConnectHome, “a new initiative with communities, the private sector, and federal government to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country.” (“FACT SHEET: ConnectHome: Coming Together to Ensure Digital Opportunity for All Americans”) 


In 2023, Congress approved over $42 billion to accelerate efforts to expand access. (Von Ah) The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more. The federal program offers eligible households a discount on their monthly internet bill and a one-time discount off the purchase of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Over 23 million eligible households are currently enrolled and receiving the monthly discount. ACP stopped accepting new applications and enrollments on February 7, 2024. (“Affordable Connectivity Program”) The last fully funded month of this program is April 2024. Learn more about the winding down of the program here and here.


Resources

If you or someone you know will be impacted by the winding down of the ACP program

  • Contact Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) for questions about the wind-down. Consumers can call the ACP Support Center at 877-384-2575 or go to AffordableConnectivity.gov  for information about the status of the program.

  • Consumers can also file a complaint through the FCC's Consumer Complaint Center at

https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov  about ACP billing and service issues.


To learn more about the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s three recommendations to close the digital divide following its study on federal broadband efforts. (“Broadband: National Strategy Needed to Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Digital Divide”)




Works Cited

“Affordable Connectivity Program.” Federal Communications Commission, Consumer and Governmental Affairs, https://www.fcc.gov/acp. Accessed 20 March 2024.


“Broadband: National Strategy Needed to Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Digital Divide.” Government Accountability Office, U.S. Government Accountability Office, 31 May 2022, https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-22-104611. Accessed 20 March 2024.


Campisi, Natalie. “42 Million Americans Still Don't Have Access to Broadband Internet – Forbes Advisor.” Forbes, 26 May 2023, https://www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/millions-lack-broadband-access/. Accessed 12 February 2024.


“FACT SHEET: ConnectHome: Coming Together to Ensure Digital Opportunity for All Americans.” Obama White House, 15 July 2015, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/15/fact-sheet-connecthome-coming-together-ensure-digital-opportunity-all. Accessed 5 March 2024.


Von Ah, Andrew. “Closing the Digital Divide for the Millions of Americans without Broadband.” Government Accountability Office, 1 February 2023, https://www.gao.gov/blog/closing-digital-divide-millions-americans-without-broadband. Accessed 12 February 2024.

Comments


bottom of page