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The Private Sector: Bridging The Digital Divide

August 30, 2017

Last week, we discussed new investments private sector Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are making to expand broadband service in rural areas of the country. These efforts aren’t the only ones ISPs have undertaken to bridge the digital divide. Several major companies provide low-cost service or free or discounted devices to customers in need. For example:

  • WLKY in Louisville, Ky. recently reported that “AT&T is partnering with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to bring affordable Internet access to homes in need.” The network explained that the Connect home initiative will offers HUD residents internet plans costing $5 and $10 per month. Click here to read more from Louisville.
  • In an effort to close the city’s “homework gap,” Sprint, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Chicago Public Schools recently announced that 7,600 Chicago high school students will receive free mobile devices from the Sprint Foundation and high-speed wireless Internet service from Sprint. The company recently made the same announcement for 7,100 Georgia high school students.
  • Through its foundation, Sprint has pledged to connect more than 180,000 high school students across 30 states with a free device and free wireless service this year.
  • Since 2011, nearly half a million low-income Floridians and nearly 600,000 Californians have benefited from Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. Comcast recently expanded its Internet Essentials program. Now, “Families with at least one child receiving free or reduced-price lunch at school are eligible to apply for the program, as are residents who receive housing assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.” Subscribers pay $9.95 a month for home broadband and Wi-Fi and have the option to purchase a subsidized home computer through Comcast for $149.99.
  • Comcast also recently gave 100 senior citizens in Detroit free laptops. Click here to learn more about the company’s efforts in the Motor City.
  • Cox recently launched Cox Digital Academy to help connect families with the Internet and improve digital literacy. KATC News explained the program “will provide valuable tools for people who are still having issues using the Internet,” and will include lessons about how to stay safe and secure online.