Affordable, uncapped Internet means uncapped potential

Mobile Beacon provides affordable mobile broadband to anchor institutions (schools, libraries, healthcare facilities, nonprofits). They also provide affordable mobile broadband to low income households. They have a Minnesota connection – they have been working with PCs for People. Clients come to PCs for People for affordable refurbished computers and now they can also get low cost subscriptions to Mobile Beacon through a program they jointly call Bridging the Gap. They pay $10-13 per month for uncapped access to 4G LTE.

Mobile Beacon just released a report on the impact of affordable access has on the recipients – or What Affordable, Uncapped Internet Means to Digital Inclusion. Here are the highlights from the report – taking from their key findings.

  • 73% of respondents stated that Bridging the Gap provided their first home internet service.
  • 94% reported they now use the internet daily (with 82% reporting to use it for several hours a day).
  • While only 17% of respondents owned a computer prior to enrolling in Bridging the Gap, 39% obtained a computer at some point during their enrollment.
  • 94% of households whose previous internet service was subject to data caps had access to 8 GB or less of data per month (68% had access to 5 GB or less and 30% had access to 2 GB or less of data per month).
  • 60% of respondents whose previous internet service was subject to a data cap reported difficulty using the service for online classes or homework.
  • 22% said there were online educational activities they were unable to do prior to enrolling in Bridging the Gap due to data caps on their previous service.
  • 94% of parents said having Mobile Beacon’s internet service has helped them better support their child(ren) academically.
  • 54% of parents reported their children spend more than 4 hours per week doing homework online.
  • 95% of all respondents with school-age students reported they can now communicate with their child’s teachers more often since enrolling in Bridging the Gap.
  • Nearly one-third (32%) of respondents reported that an adult in their household is currently taking a continuing education class or attending college.
  • 24% said they started taking daily or weekly online classes after signing up for Mobile Beacon’s internet service through Bridging the Gap.
  • Those reporting to take online classes use a whopping 19 GB more per month on average than those who do not.
  • The median cost-savings for the national Bridging the Gap subscriber base is $110,646 each month, or $1,327,752 every year!

I’m also including a couple of graphics that hit me – probably because I have three daughters. I can’t imagine dealing with education without broadband. It was fun when they were little to have them ask “what’s a tornado” and find a video. It’s not “fun” – it’s imperative to have access when they want to do homework. It’s imperative to have access when applying for colleges, financial aid or visa for kid going to college in Canada. It’s imperative to have access when someone asks me to help with any math after 9th grade. It’s imperative to have access to set them up for success! I can’t imagine staying on this side of any gap much less closing a gap without broadband.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, education, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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