Digital Equity Act

Content tagged with "Digital Equity Act"

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FCC and Broadband Providers Prepare for ACP Wind Down

As digital inclusion practitioners and broadband-for-all advocates continue to push Congress to save the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), 22.5 million Americans now enrolled in the program are weeks away from being officially notified of its pending termination as ACP funds are on track to be depleted by the end of April.

The looming demise of the ACP – which provides income-eligible households with a $30 monthly voucher to pay for pricey Internet service bills ($75/month for Tribal citizens living on reservations) – comes at a crucial moment in the rollout of the “Internet For All” initiative. All 56 States and U.S. territories are poised to receive nearly $45 billion in broadband expansion funds from the bipartisan infrastructure law over the next year.

Separate from the BEAD program and Digital Equity Act funding, the bipartisan infrastructure law also established the ACP with a $14.2 billion allocation. At current enrollment rates, the program disburses about $650 million per month to Internet service providers (ISPs).

Building for Digital Equity End of Year Encore

Capping off a banner year in broadband, ILSR and NDIA’s final Building for Digital Equity livestream of 2023 this week had its largest audience to date since the online quarterly series started in 2022.

Digital Equity Unwrapped: End of Year Reflections/The New Year Ahead, sponsored by UTOPIA Fiber, featured timely topics and practical insights from an array of frontline digital inclusion practitioners, teeing up Net Inclusion 2024 – the biggest in-person gathering of digital equity advocates in the nation.

That event will be hosted by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) in Philadelphia, February 13-15, 2024.

If you missed the #B4DE 2023 finale or would like to see it again, you can watch it in its entirety below.

It includes lightning round presentations from the Administrator for Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) Nubia Estrada and OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates Policy & Organizing Manager Eric Kim; a preview of this year’s Trailblazer Awards with a special guest appearance by Rebecca Kauma, LA County’s Director of Digital Equity; and an update on the work being done by Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Digital Navigator Ashley Smith.

Putting a bow on the holiday season event was keynote speaker Patrick Messac, Director of the Bay Area-based digital equity nonprofit #OaklandUndivided. Messac connected the dots on the importance of equitable infrastructure investments, mapping, and ways local communities might leverage the FCC’s new rules to address digital discrimination.

Countdown To Last Building for Digital Equity Event Of The Year

Digital Equity Unwrapped: End of Year Reflections/The New Year Ahead is just a week away, as seats are filling up fast for next Tuesday’s Building for Digital Equity (#B4DE) event.

The popular (and free) virtual gathering – slated for December 12, 2023 from 3 to 4:15 pm ET – will highlight important milestones in broadband over the past year and take a look ahead for what promises to be another busy year for digital inclusion practitioners across the country.

There’s still time to register for the event here.

Co-hosted by the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) Community Broadband Networks Initiative and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), the final #B4DE of the year will serve up practical insights on everything from Digital Equity Act planning to how communities are confronting digital discrimination.

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B4DE December 2023 flyer screenshot

The event will be sparked by lightning round presentations featuring Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Administrator for Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) Nubia Estrada and OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates Policy & Organizing Manager Eric Kim. Each will give a concise overview of their outreach work with “covered populations.”

AARP and ILSR Continue to Support “Covered Populations” With Broadband for Beginners Workshops

As state and local broadband leaders engage “covered populations,” as defined under the Digital Equity Act, AARP and ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative has been working in partnership over the past two years to deliver “Broadband for Beginners” workshops in states across the country that target individuals 60 years of age or older – and those who work with them.

Next month, on Dec 7 from 8:30 AM to 5 pm ET, AARP Maine and the ILSR team will wrap up the year with an in-person workshop in Bangor, Maine. The all-day event is designed to demystify broadband technology and help empower older adults to join the effort to expand digital equity, most especially those who have been reluctant or fearful to explore the opportunities broadband access offers.

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older adult hands on computer

There is still time to register here.

The agenda will serve up a veritable buffet of broadband topics and leave participants stuffed with confidence in how to advocate for their needs in an increasingly digital society.

“We are thrilled to be working with AARP in Maine,” said ILSR Community Broadband Networks Director Christopher Mitchell. “The state of Maine is making great strides on Internet access and we look forward to supporting that work with many of the people responsible for it.”

Inline image of older adult typing on laptop courtesy of StockVault, CC0 1.0 Universal
 

Save the Date: Building for Digital Equity #B4DE Holiday Edition

With the holiday season upon us, the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) Community Broadband Networks Initiative and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) are gearing up for the final Building for Digital Equity (#B4DE) event of the year and encouraging digital equity practitioners to save the date.

The popular (and free) virtual gathering will be held December 12, 2023 from 3 to 4:15 pm ET and will feature a holiday-inspired theme: Digital Equity Unwrapped: End of Year Reflections/The New Year Ahead.

You can register for the event now here.

Coming on the heels of our last B4DE event in October, which is still reverberating through digital inclusion circles across the nation, we are excited to follow up with a jolly and informative agenda that will cover:

  • The latest on the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
  • Lightning Rounds on digital inclusion work with covered populations.
  • Setting the table on forthcoming Digital Equity Act funding and how communities are preparing.
  • Unpacking digital discrimination and its practical implications.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Patrick Messac, Director of #OaklandUndivided, an equity-based, collective impact initiative launched in Oakland, California.

Building for Digital Equity Event Encore

If you missed today’s Building for Digital Equity (#B4DE) livestream event"Building Connected Communities: Sustaining the Momentum" – no sweat.

You can still see the entire program below. The latest installment of #B4DE was packed with practical information and inspiration on everything from the latest on the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), outreach to veterans, telehealth and broadband adoption – mixed with on-the-ground intel from local communities pushing the digital equity movement forward.

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B4DE event screenshot

Co-hosted by ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), the event was capped off by keynote speaker and emerging digital equity leader Joshua Edmonds, CEO of Digital C in Cleveland, who painted a powerful and expansive vision of digital equity work based on insights that have emerged from working in the trenches.

The entire #B4DE live stream, sponsored once again by UTOPIA Fiber, can be seen below. And, for other Digital Inclusion Week (DIW) engagements check out NDIA’s page here.

Next B4DE Event This Tuesday: Building Connected Communities, Sustaining Momentum

Lots happening for Digital Inclusion Week 2023, which kicks off this Monday. One free online event that will be of particular interest for digital equity advocates across the nation is the next National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) Building for Digital Equity (#B4DE) Livestream.

The popular virtual gathering will be held this Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 12 noon to 1:15 pm ET and will focus on the DIW-inspired theme: Building Connected Communities: Sustaining Momentum.

Attendees can still register here.

Building on the success of our previous events, we are excited to present another engaging agenda packed with practical insights and information digital inclusion practitioners can use while working in the trenches to bridge America’s yawning digital divide.

The agenda includes:

Initial BEAD Proposals and Five Year Action Plans Come Into Focus

The key for states to unlock their portion of the $42.5 billion in federal BEAD funds is the submission and approval of their Five Year Action Plans and Final Proposal. The infrastructure law requires states to first file an action plan, and then prepare more detailed Initial Proposals, allowing residents and stakeholders to submit public comments.

So far, 14 states have filed their Five Year Action Plans with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Treasury Department agency in charge of allocating the funds to each state and U.S. territory. According to the NTIA’s website, Maine, Louisiana, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Vermont have all filed their draft Five Year Action Plans.

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NTIA logo

The states that are now in the process of completing their Initial Proposals include: Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

Today, we will look at two states (Maine and Louisiana) and follow up with the others as we are getting a clearer picture of how each state intends to put this historic infusion of federal funds to use.

Maine

Connect Humanity Project Aims To Bring Broadband To Rural Appalachia

Connect Humanity and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) have struck a new $7.9 million coalition partnership they say will help deliver affordable, next-generation broadband networks to more than 50 communities across 12 Appalachian states.

The project announcement states ARC has already awarded $6.3 million via its new Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE) program, which is designed to help marginalized communities prepare for the more than $45 billion in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity Act (DEA) funding arriving later this year.

Funding from both programs is currently bottlenecked behind the Federal Communications Commission’s longstanding and troubled efforts to accurately map broadband access. That’s been a particular problem in rural America, where fixed and wireless broadband providers have overstated real-world broadband access for the better part of a generation.

ARC data indicates that rural Appalachian communities, which stretch from New York State to Mississippi, are far more likely to have been left stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. That’s thanks in part to telecom monopolies that either refuse to revest in lower ROI rural areas, or have failed to live up to past taxpayer subsidization obligations.

Connectivity in the region lags well behind the national average, and in 26 Appalachian counties, fewer than 65 percent of households have a broadband subscription. 88 percent of Appalachian households currently have one or more computer devices—nearly four points below the national average. Only 23 Appalachian counties were at or above that same national average, and all of them were in metropolitan areas.

States Can Now Line Up for Federal Broadband Infrastructure Funds

The window to request an unprecedented amount of federal funds to support state broadband grant programs is now open for business.

On Friday the 13th, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) officially announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity Access & Deployment (BEAD) program.

The BEAD program, which is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that was passed in November 2021, represents the single largest federal investment in broadband expansion in U.S. history. The program, according to NTIA’s own definition, is designed to allocate the funds to all 50 states (U.S. territories and Tribal governments) to support “projects that help expand high-speed Internet access … (through) infrastructure deployment, mapping, and adoption. This includes planning and capacity-building in state offices. And it supports outreach and coordination with local communities.”

The Application Process Has Begun

We have documented and discussed the BEAD program on numerous occasions, which you can find here. But the big news that comes with the NOFO release are the application deadlines associated with it.

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States have until July 18 to submit their Letter of Intent (LOI), a required first step for states to receive a minimum of $100 million in BEAD funds. (States will be allocated additional funding based on a formula that takes into account how many unserved households are in each state).