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Blog // Connect Michigan

FCC’s Lifeline Broadband Pilots Test Strategies for Promoting Broadband Adoption among Low-Income Americans

By Connected Nation

This month Connected Nation is raising awareness about digital learning programs and partners across the country. Today’s blog is shining a spotlight on the FCC Lifeline Broadband Pilot program which launched last week. These pilots are underway in several states to test how best to increase adoption of high-speed Internet among low-income Americans, a group with strikingly low adoption levels. The FCC established the Lifeline broadband pilot program last year as a competitive selection program for projects to gather data regarding what programs would result in higher adoption rates among low-income consumers.  Connected Nation is playing a key role in the pilots in development, research, and working with 7 providers and over 200 community partners to facilitate basic computer and Internet training for pilot participants via the Every Community Online program. 

Cassi Jordan, the first participant to complete training via Connect Ohio’s digital learning program and receive a laptop and low-cost broadband via Frontier Communication’s Lifeline Broadband Program, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the program.

“I recommend the program to the people who are having a tough time affording computers and Internet. The availability of Internet in the household offers opportunities for job searching and learning new skills,” said Jordan.

Why is this important?

The pilots are testing various strategies of overcoming the leading barriers to broadband adoption – cost, literacy, and relevance. According to research conducted by Connected Nation in 2012, low-income families continue to face challenges with accessing computers and high-speed Internet:

  • 5 million low-income households cite the cost of broadband or a computer as the main reason why they don't adopt, and 2.6 million cite a lack of digital skills as the main reason they are non-adopters.
  • Approximately 2.3 million low-income adults in the US do not subscribe to broadband because they do not know how to use or access the Internet, while another 2.3 million do not know how to use a computer. 

How does Connected Nation Help to Overcome Barriers to Broadband Adoption?

Connected Nation’s Every Community Online helps vulnerable populations overcome top barriers to technology adoption - broadband awareness, technology training, computer ownership, and subscription affordability. With the vision of achieving universal technology adoption and meaningful use, Connected Nation is committed to enhancing digital learning, workforce development, and improvement of individual life skills.

ECO by the numbers:

  • 120,000 - Individuals who have participated in digital literacy and Internet security training supported by Connected Nation
  • 10,000 – Number of computers distributed to households, community centers, libraries, schools, etc.
  • 3,000 - Computers donated to low-income families in economically distressed counties in Appalachia       
  • 350 – The number of digital literacy facilities set up via Connected Nation programming
  • 187 –HUD households that participated in Connected Nation adoption programming

For more details on the Lifeline Program – click here.

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