Two questions I hear a lot in the broadband world: How can public and private work together? How can we encourage non-adopters to subscribe to broadband? I think the following story answers both…
Through MIRC funding, KOOTASCA Community Action supported a project that sought to bring computers and broadband connectivity to Native American student families in the Deer River School District. They partnered with PCs for People and Paul Bunyan, the local broadband provider to make it happen.
There were 28 PCs for People refurbished computers available at no charge to these families along with a paid 10 month subscription for Internet service for 24 families through Paul Bunyan Communications. The families qualified for free and reduced price lunch. The project ended December 31, 2012.
As of January, 2013 the households picked up the cost of the Internet at the regular rate from Paul Bunyan Communications. To date in March only 4 households have dropped their Internet service from Paul Bunyan Communications….an 84% retention rate.
KOOTASCA helped to facilitate the project between PCs for People (a nonprofit), the school and the local provider. We’ve had stories of similar projects in Thief River Falls and other areas – but it seems like the kind of straightforward plan that bears repeating.