Color of Change launches Black Tech Agenda – steps to racial equity in technology

From the Color of Change

Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, today launched the “Black Tech Agenda” which is endorsed by several prominent members of Congress: Senator Cory Booker (NJ), Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), Representative Robin Kelly (IL-02), and Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07).

The Black Tech agenda sets an affirmative vision for how to create tech policy that centers racial justice, ensuring bias and discrimination are rooted out from the digital lives of Black people and everyone. The agenda has 6 pillars which outline real policy solutions for Congress to advance racial equity in Tech:

  • Advancing Robust Antitrust Policy: Create fair markets where Black businesses can compete, Black workers can thrive and Black people have abundant options;
  • Protecting Privacy and Ending Surveillance: Limiting monopoly power to create fair markets where Black businesses can compete, Black workers can thrive and Black people have abundant options;
  • Preventing Algorithmic Discrimination: Forcing companies to address discrimination in their decision-making through independent audits and repair the harm that has happened;
  • Expanding Broadband Access: Ensuring everyone has high quality, affordable internet;
  • Supporting Net Neutrality: Treat all internet traffic equally and designate the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as its regulatory body; and
  • Addressing the Disinformation and Misinformation Crisis: Changing the incentives for profiting from harm by regulating optimization algorithms and reducing monopoly power.

The Black Tech Agenda, as a comprehensive roadmap to prioritizing the policies that impact Black communities on and offline, is an effort to distinguish the real solutions to advance racial equity from fake, self-regulated suggestions proposed by Big Tech.

Turns out Affordable Connectivity Program subscribers are power broadband users!

Telecompetitor reports

Households participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) are using more broadband in comparison with the broader population of homes, according to OpenVault Broadband Insights (OVBI).

The ACP was launched by the FCC in January. It provides eligible households monthly discounts of as much as $30 on broadband subscriptions. The discounts are as much as $75 on Tribal lands.

“Early indications suggest these participants have a healthy appetite for broadband, driving significantly higher usage patterns in comparison with the average subscriber,” according to the report. “With close to one-fourth (23.8%) of ACP participants qualifying as power users, the impact of an expanding ACP subscriber base has significant implications for broadband traffic, particularly in the last mile.”

The second quarter report from the firm traced heavy usage by ACP households during the second quarter of the year:

  • ACP participants’ average usage of 654 GB per month was 33.3% higher than the average of 490.7 GB for all subscribers.
  • ACP participants’ median usage of 499.3 GB per month was almost 60% higher than the median of 313.9 GB per month for all subscribers.
  • ACP households were 36% more likely to be power users of 1 TB or more, and 52% more likely to be super power users of 2 TB or more.

The second quarter report also found that usage for subscribers on usage-based billing (UBB) is growing more quickly than usage for subscribers on flat rate billing (FRB) plans. During the second quarter, usage by UBB subscribers grew 20.6% year-over-year to 310.7 GB while usage by FRB subscribers grew 8.1% to 322 GB.

For so long survey came back saying there were two main reasons people didn’t get broadband at home – cost and not interested. These stats put those answers in perspective. It’s easy to say you don’t have an interest in something you can’t afford because it’s easier to not want for something you can’t afford and it can feel like a waste of time to look into something you can’t afford. But it seems folks are making up for lost time!

Minnesota senior may need extra IT support – the libraries are there to help

A recent letter to the editor in Minneapolis Star Tribune outlines the reasons that Minnesota seniors need special attention to close the digital equity gap…

Virtual as the new normal is now our reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of digital inclusion and literacy for all. Technology is considered an essential resource, a necessity for civic and cultural participation, lifelong learning and access to critical services, including shopping at Target.

As Pommer noted, there is an age-based digital divide within our state with older adults exhibiting lower access to the internet, fewer digital skills and more limited use of technology. To add to the problem, as 10,000 baby boomers retire daily from now until 2030 across the U.S., new retirees are realizing that there is no longer an IT department available to them. With rapid and continual changes in technology, ongoing adoption and assistive services are essential, regardless of age or where a person lives.

The downside is significant for seniors. The digital divide contributes to increased social isolation, severity of chronic diseases and an overall diminished quality of life. The problem is worse in rural areas than metro areas.

And it offers a solution…

Through policy developed through the University of Minnesota Project Reach Program, Minnesota’s public libraries are emerging as the IT department for retirees.

The Library Services and Technology Act of 1996 (LSTA) established a federal grant program to identify priorities centered on technology infrastructure. Under the leadership of the State Library Services, Minnesota’s library network of 356 public locations has historically provided community-based digital device and training resources.

Every five years, the LSTA requires state library agencies to submit a five-year grant plan identifying state priorities. With the current plan through 2025, Minnesota is prioritizing digital inclusion and digital literacy programs championing Minnesota’s older adults, especially those living in rural areas.

Minnesota has a significant funding opportunity via the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. Linking the development of a state digital equity plan to existing broadband access initiatives strategically positions the Minnesota State Library Services to lead digital inclusion and digital literacy using its extensive statewide footprint across both metro and rural areas.

Broad deployment of digital inclusion and digital literacy programs will enable Minnesota’s growing older-adult population to fully participate in the virtual new normal. Thank you to Minnesota’s public libraries. They have the geographic reach, knowledge, expertise and savvy to create real change and implement digital inclusion and digital literacy as an essential healthy aging strategy benefiting all of Minnesota citizens.

FCC and Paul Bunyan raise awareness of Affordable Connectivity Programs

The latest from Paul Bunyan…

Paul Bunyan Communications and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are promoting Lifeline Awareness Week, September 12-16.

“Access to reliable high speed Internet service is critical.  We promote the Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program a lot throughout the year and Lifeline Awareness Week is another opportunity to spread the word about these programs.  We want to make sure all of our membership and those who live within our service area know about them and the benefit they can provide.  These programs help those struggling to afford Internet services get and stay connected!” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager

Lifeline is an FCC program designed to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers.  Lifeline provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on qualifying voice and broadband services for eligible low-income subscribers and up to $34.25 per month for subscribers on qualifying Tribal lands.  To learn more about Lifeline, go to www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers or www.lifelinesupport.org/.

A new FCC program, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), is also now available to help families and households struggling to afford internet service.  The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.  Additional information about the Affordable Connectivity Program Benefit is available at www.fcc.gov/ACP, or by calling 877-384-2575 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET any day of the week.  Households that qualify for Lifeline also qualify for the ACP Benefit.

EVENT Sep 15: Webinar on getting assistance from Affordable Connectivity Program

Sahan Journal posts information on how people in Minnesota can get funding from the Affordable Connectivity Program and they are hosting an online even on Sept 15…

On September 15, 2022, Sahan Journal–with support from Comcast–is hosting a free virtual community discussion that uncovers how the landscape around digital equity and access has changed in the last two years, and how that has impacted schooling and remote work in the state of Minnesota. This discussion is ideal for parents who are in the midst of planning for the new school year, or for adult learners and remote workers who have questions on how to take advantage of local and state programs that not only offer affordable internet access and technology, but ensure that you have the proper skills to use hardware and devices, and access broadband when available. Register here no later than September 8,2022: www.tinyurl.com/digital-equity

ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative unveils new Affordable Connectivity Program Dashboard

Big new tool from the Institute for Local Self Reliance…

Today the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) unveiled its Affordable Connectivity Program Dashboard.

A product of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, the interactive dashboard tells a visual story of how many Americans are enrolled in the program, offers predictive models on when the funds will be depleted, and shows how much is being spent at the national, state, and zip-code level.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was established with the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to help low-income households get in-home high-speed Internet service. The program offers a $30 monthly subsidy for income-eligible households to pay for a broadband subscription. The subsidy is $75/month for Tribal citizens and offers a one-time $100 subsidy for all program participants to buy an Internet-connected digital device.

The ACP Dashboard contains numerous features, including the month and year the fund will be depleted. At the current enrollment rate, the fund will run out in March 2025. The dashboard also includes a list of the 10 major cities with the highest ACP enrollment numbers:

  • Cleveland, OH
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Detroit, MI
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Columbus, OH
  • San Diego, CA
  • New York City
  • San Antonio, TX/Washington D.C.

“Although the ACP is a short-term solution to a long-term challenge, it is a vital program for Americans unable to afford basic home Internet service where it’s available now,” noted Community Broadband Networks Initiative Senior Researcher Ry Marcattilio. “However, only a relatively small percentage of eligible households have enrolled in the program.”

“As efforts to ramp-up enrollment are ongoing, it’s important for those concerned about digital equity to bear in mind that the ACP relies on Congressional appropriation. And when the fund is exhausted, low-income households will see their bills go up significantly without further appropriation,” said Christine Parker, Community Broadband Networks Initiative GIS/Data Visualization Specialist.

The ACP Dashboard, which relies on data from the Universal Service Administrative Company, was designed to make ACP enrollment data more accessible to the public, interested policy makers, and frontline digital equity advocates. It can be especially useful as a tool to quickly identify where there are inequities across different parts of the country and begin exploring what may be driving these disparate outcomes. 

“Some parts of the country are seeing higher enrollment rates than others, suggesting there are things to be learned about the obstacles in signing up participants,” Marcattilio said.

The dashboard is iterative and updated with the latest enrollment numbers every two weeks. ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative has created a standalone website for the dashboard, which can be found here.

About the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has a vision of thriving, equitable communities. We are a national research and advocacy organization that partners with allies across the country to build an American economy driven by local priorities and accountable to people and the planet. ILSR.org 

Here’s where Minnesota stands (today) with:

  • 27.7 % of eligible households enrolled
  • 139,161 total household enrolled
  • $4,279,200.75 Total spending in MN

EVENT Sep 12: Affordable Connectivity Program Sign Up Day in Inger

An announcement from Paul Bunyan…

Paul Bunyan Communications, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and the Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) are holding a sign-up day for the Affordable Connectivity Program, on Monday, September 12 from 2-7 p.m. at the Inger Community Center.

This new long-term benefit will help to lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households struggling to afford internet service and provides a discount of up to a $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households on qualifying Tribal lands.

A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines;
  • Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline;
  • Participates in one of several Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start (only households meeting the relevant income qualifying standard) Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
  • Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income program.

Eligible households can enroll at the sign-up event, through a participating broadband provider, or by going to ACPBenefit.org to submit an online application or print a mail-in application and contacting their preferred participating broadband provider and selecting a plan.  Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at www.fcc.gov/ACP, or by calling 877-384-2575 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET any day of the week.

About Paul Bunyan Communications

Paul Bunyan Communications has the region’s largest and fastest all fiber optic network with over 6,000 square miles throughout most of Beltrami County and portions of Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, and St. Louis Counties.  The Cooperative provides fiber optic fast Internet speeds up to 10 Gig powered by the GigaZone, television services, digital voice services, Residential and Business IT services, and is also the home of northern Minnesota’s certified Apple Service Center.

About Itasca Economic Development Corporation

The Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) formed in 1981 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to the creation of high-quality jobs in and around Itasca County. Throughout its history, IEDC has established itself as a go-to resource for business retention, growth, and expansion. Their mission is to grow the Itasca County economy through education, research and outreach that creates business opportunities.

OPPORTUNITY: Call for Video Submissions for #DIW2022!

An invitation from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance to help promote and celebrate Digital Inclusion Week 2022…

The Digital Inclusion Week team is creating a video to highlight digital inclusion supporters around the country! This video will be shared on the NDIA website and on social media by any and all participating organizations during Digital Inclusion Week Oct. 3-7.

We’d like all of you to participate!

Materials needed: Cell phone in landscape orientation or computer & your smile (and internet of course)

Activity: Record and send us a SHORT video (about 5-7 seconds)

Who: You, your staff members, your community participants, your child, your Mayor, your local celebrity – anyone who supports digital inclusion!

Where: Suggestion (not requirement): Use your city or org as a backdrop! Either somewhere on location outside in your town/city or use a green screen/Zoom background

Suggested Script: I’m _[your name]_ with ___[your org]_____ and

+ I believe [use a suggested phrase below or make your own short phrase]

  • Digital equity should be our new norm.
  • We need digital equity now.
  • Digital inclusion means digital skills for all.
  • Digital inclusion means broadband for all.
  • Digital inclusion means access to devices for everyone.
  • Digital Equity is Racial Equity.
  • You should find out more about Digital Inclusion Week
  • Digital Inclusion means ____[your own word/short phrase]_____.
  • [Your own very short phrase]

+ We’re Turning our Digital Equity Moment into Movement by

  • Raising awareness in our community
  • Talking to my elected officials to create policies
  • Providing hotspots to the community members in need
  • Advocating for ____________ that need ___________
  • Supplying grants for _____________ organizations doing DI work
  • [Your own very short phrase]

Upload your video file(s) and NDIA will edit the clips together for everyone to share during Digital Inclusion Week.

Upload Here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1vSVLwJkDITjiQjLUNBahBcx16y5YoF2Q?usp=sharing

Or send the video file with Amanda Madden: amanda@digitalinclusion.org

Please name your file: YOUR NAME, YOUR ORG, YOUR CITY. (Example: Yvette Scorse, NDIA, Washington, DC)

Deadline to submit: Wednesday, September 7

What’s happening with Bois Forte Band of Chippewa

I’ve been trying to check in with folks in the county (or tribal areas) who might know who to contact about digital equity programs or opportunities. (If you are that person, please give me a shout! atreacy@treacyinfo.com) As I contact folks, I’ve been getting some fun update, such as this one from Randy Long with Bois Forte Band of Chippewa…

Our current fiber to the home project is currently underway and hopeful that the locations of Nett Lake, Palmquist and Indian Point will be completed an operations yet this fall. Our Vermilion location where the Casino is located will be questionable by late fall. I have applied for many funding opportunities for broadband in conjunction with CTC for our surrounding areas and hopeful that some of them will come through.

Digital Divide Index show readiness for impacts of COVID quarantines: Most MN counties ready but not all

Back in 2017, Roberto Gallardo was one of the keynote speaker at a Minnesota Broadband conference. He found a way to formulate a Digital Divide Index for each county in Minnesota based on a range of data point especially organized in two categories broadband adoption/infrastructure and socioeconomic factors. He’s done it again looking at county-level data across the United States. The map below will give you an idea of how Minnesota compares. (The brighter the color, the brighter the digital equity outlook.)

We can also see a marked urban/rural divide as he points out…

These groups were then utilized to analyze a host of other variables to better understand this issue. Figure 1 shows a map of U.S. counties by DDI groups. Of the 1,031 counties with a low digital divide, 747 or 72% were considered urban (population living in urban areas 2 was more than 50%). On the other hand, of the 1,063 counties with a high digital divide, only 187 or 17.5% were urban.

Roberto looks at a number of aspects that touch on the digital divide; one that struck me was workforce situations – especially given that the data used was from 2020. It really highlights the divide between those who were ready, willing and able to work online during the early stage of the pandemic and those who weren’t.

Digital divide may not be the only issue in these areas but it’s definitely an exacerbating factor…

The digital divide is holding back counties from participating fully in the digital economy. Again, it is not clear if this would have been the case regardless of the digital divide, but nonetheless it is placing communities at a disadvantage. As shown, counties with a high digital divide lost jobs between 2010 and 2020 while counties with a low digital divide saw an 11 percent increase. Likewise, the share of occupations requiring high digital skills was larger in counties with a low digital divide. Lastly, microbusiness density and activity were also lower in counties with a high digital divide. However, regarding microbusiness activity, the issue seems to be more about sophisticated online presence rather than infrastructure and number of businesses online.

Wondering how your county did – check the list below. Only two counties were in the danger area: Aitkin and Mahnomen. Looking at how they rank in terms of access, Aitkin 79 and Mahnomen is 61.

Name  
Aitkin County High
Anoka County Low
Becker County Low
Beltrami County Low
Benton County Low
Big Stone County Moderate
Blue Earth County Low
Brown County Low
Carlton County Moderate
Carver County Low
Cass County Moderate
Chippewa County Moderate
Chisago County Low
Clay County Low
Clearwater County Moderate
Cook County Moderate
Cottonwood County Moderate
Crow Wing County Low
Dakota County Low
Dodge County Low
Douglas County Low
Faribault County Moderate
Fillmore County Low
Freeborn County Moderate
Goodhue County Low
Grant County Moderate
Hennepin County Low
Houston County Low
Hubbard County Low
Isanti County Low
Itasca County Moderate
Jackson County Low
Kanabec County Moderate
Kandiyohi County Low
Kittson County Moderate
Koochiching County Moderate
Lac qui Parle County Moderate
Lake County Moderate
Lake of the Woods County Moderate
Le Sueur County Low
Lincoln County Moderate
Lyon County Low
Mahnomen County High
Marshall County Moderate
Martin County Moderate
McLeod County Low
Meeker County Low
Mille Lacs County Moderate
Morrison County Moderate
Mower County Moderate
Murray County Moderate
Nicollet County Low
Nobles County Moderate
Norman County Moderate
Olmsted County Low
Otter Tail County Moderate
Pennington County Low
Pine County Moderate
Pipestone County Moderate
Polk County Low
Pope County Moderate
Ramsey County Low
Red Lake County Moderate
Redwood County Moderate
Renville County Moderate
Rice County Low
Rock County Low
Roseau County Low
Scott County Low
Sherburne County Low
Sibley County Low
St. Louis County Moderate
Stearns County Low
Steele County Low
Stevens County Low
Swift County Moderate
Todd County Moderate
Traverse County Moderate
Wabasha County Low
Wadena County Moderate
Waseca County Low
Washington County Low
Watonwan County Moderate
Wilkin County Moderate
Winona County Low
Wright County Low
Yellow Medicine County Moderate

OPPORTUNITY: Experienced Online Digital Skills Instructors Needed

From the National Digital Equity Center

The National Digital Equity Center is looking for experienced Digital Skills Instructors to join our team.  Applicants for these fully remote positions must be able to meet the following requirements:

  • Must have a home office with high speed internet access
  • Experience teaching computer skills to adults, preferably in a classroom or online setting
  • Comfortable and proficient with the use of Zoom for meetings and instruction
  • Strong demonstrated digital literacy/computer skills, especially with Windows 10 and Android devices
  • Available for at least 20 hours a week during the hours of 8:30 am to 8 pm EST, Monday through Friday excluding holidays.
  • Willing to abide by the National Digital Equity Center’s Code of Conduct – https://digitalequitycenter.org/ndec-code-of-conduct/
  • Starting pay: $20.00/hr.

Both half-time and full-time positions are available.  Please send a resume and a letter of inquiry to info@digitalequitycenter.org.

The National Digital Equity Center is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, including transgender status and gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities.

EVENT Aug 25: Paul Bunyan and Red Lake Nation host Affordable Connectivity Program Day

Red Lake Nation News reports

Paul Bunyan Communications and the Red Lake Nation are holding a another sign-up day for the Affordable Connectivity Program, this time on Thursday, August 25 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Red Lake Nation College in Red Lake.

This new long-term benefit will help to lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households struggling to afford internet service and provides a discount of up to a $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households on qualifying Tribal lands.

US House Lawmakers Urge Biden Administration to Co-Locate Broadband and EV Charging Infrastructure

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society report..

Reps Anna G Eshoo (D-CA) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) led a letter to Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information at the National Telecommunications and Information (NTIA) Alan Davidson, urging them to use funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to build out broadband and electric vehicle charging infrastructure simultaneously.

The letter beings

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) makes transformative investments in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and will help meet the Administration’s critical goal of 500,000 chargers by 2030 to ensure that EVs are accessible to all Americans. As federal agencies, states, and relevant stakeholders develop plans for a robust electric vehicle (EV) charging network across the country, we urge you to consider the connectivity requirements for EV supply equipment (EVSE) as well as the benefits of co-locating EVSE with infrastructure that can also be utilized to deploy broadband.

EV needs broadband and unserved areas are unable to adopt EV…

EV charging access has long been lacking in underserved communities. In 2019, the Department of Energy (DOE) found that 80 percent of EV owners charge in their own homes. Although home chargers are the most used type of chargers in EV adoption, apartment residents are less
likely to have access to at-home chargers. This disparity poses a particular challenge to lower income households and communities of color, who are more likely to live in multi-unit housing.
Similar challenges exist in rural areas, where limited electric distribution exacerbates range anxiety, the concern that vehicles will not be able to travel the distance needed. IIJA addresses these equity concerns by including $2.5 billion to support, among other things, rural charging
and increase EV charging access in disadvantaged communities. Additionally, IIJA directs $5 billion to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, resulting in $7.5 billion to build a national electric vehicle charging network.

Gaining access to EV, is one more reason to invest in broadband for all…

Digital equity disparities exist in areas where access to broadband is non-existent or unaffordable and disproportionately affects rural areas and communities of color. A Pew Research Center report showed that 34 percent of Black households and 39 percent of Latino households do not have wired broadband connection. In addition to this, the Census Bureau found that 33 percent of
Native Americans lack a broadband subscription, and 47 percent of those living on tribal lands lack broadband availability altogether. The IIJA acknowledged these disparities and provided $65 billion for broadband expansion, including grants for internet service expansion in unserved and underserved areas.
In light of the national electric vehicle charging network’s connectivity requirements, the persistent digital divide, and EV charging infrastructure disparities across the nation, we encourage you to coordinate IIJA broadband and EV charging infrastructure efforts to encourage co-location of EVSE with telecommunications infrastructure when and where appropriate. The IIJA also included strong prevailing wage protections and preferences to ensure federal funding supports high-skilled, well-paying jobs. We urge you to include and build upon these bedrock protections during deployment to maximize meaningful opportunities for American workers.
This approach can address multiple national priorities simultaneously and avoid duplicative efforts, maximizing IIJA’s wide-reaching equity mission.

Whitehouse reports in broadband investment through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in Minnesota

The Whitehouse reports

Eight months following the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Administration has made unprecedented investments in all 50 states and territories to build a better America that delivers for all communities. Since November 2021, President Biden and Vice President Harris have left no community behind in their efforts to rebuild America’s infrastructure.

Here’s what the Whitehouse says about broadband in Minnesota

Internet: High-speed internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, participate in school, access health care, and stay connected. Yet nearly 19% of Minnesotans do not have an internet subscription. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $65 billion to provide affordable, high-speed internet to every American. Minnesota will receive a 2 minimum allocation of at least $100 million to help ensure high-speed internet coverage across the state. Additionally, experts estimate that as many as 860,000 households in Minnesota are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which cuts internet bills by up to $30 per month, or $75 for households on Tribal lands, and provides a one-time $100 discount off a connected device. The Biden-Harris Administration is providing further cost savings by working with internet providers to offer high-speed internet plans that are fully covered by the Affordable Connectivity Program — meaning most eligible households can now get high-speed internet without paying a dime.

  • Progress to date: About 125,506 households in Minnesota are enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program, with more signing up every day. Households can check their eligibility, sign up, and find fully covered internet plans at GetInternet.gov.

New standards for Lifeline 2023 are announced

The FCC reports on new Lifeline standards for 2023. (Reminder: The Lifeline Program is a government benefit program that provides eligible low-income consumers with a discount on monthly service for voice (telephone), Broadband Internet Access Service (or BIAS, usually called internet service), or a combined telephone/internet service product from a landline or wireless provider.)

By this Public Notice, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) announces updated minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported service as required by the 2016 Lifeline Order.
1
The 2016 Lifeline Order established minimum service standards for certain Lifeline-supported services and
established annual increases in those standards either in the Commission’s rules or pursuant to calculations set out in the Order and the Commission’s rules.2
Accordingly, we announce the newly calculated minimum service standard for fixed broadband data usage allowance. This new standard will take effect on December 1, 2022. Additionally, we announce that the budget for federal universal service support for the Lifeline program for calendar year 2023 will be $2,572,862,300.3
Mobile broadband minimum service standard. On July 1, 2022, the Bureau acted to pause any increase in the Lifeline minimum service standard for mobile broadband data capacity. 4 As such, the standard will continue to be 4.5 GB per month until at least December 1, 2023.
Fixed broadband minimum service standard for data usage allowance. Pursuant to the 2016 Lifeline Order, beginning December 1, 2022, the Lifeline minimum service standard for fixed broadband data usage will be 1280 GB per month, as calculated from the 2022 Urban Rate Survey data.5
Mobile voice telephony minimum service standard. The 2016 Lifeline Order established an automatic update to the Lifeline minimum service standard for mobile voice service through November 30, 2018.6
Accordingly, pursuant to the 2016 Lifeline Order, on December 1, 2022, the Lifeline minimum service standard for mobile voice service will remain unchanged, at 1000 minutes per month.