Today at the State Senate Committee on Reimagining Massachusetts Post-Pandemic Resiliency, NDIA’s Angela Siefer spoke on the organization’s support of the state making use of American Rescue Plan funds to back broadband service and device access, alongside digital literacy training, digital navigation and tech support.
Siefer noted the correlation between median household income and broadband subscriptions of any kind being a strong indicator of the digital divide as a function of poverty, more than availability. She went on to state that this problem is not unique to the state of Massachusetts
Anywhere in the U.S., the lower a household’s income, the less likely they are to have broadband service, a device beyond a mobile phone and the digital skills to fully use this incredible tool.
Siefer is proposing a systems level approach, saying that in order to effectively impose solutions on the digital divide, barriers to broadband adoption must be addressed, outlining the areas for the Senate committee to focus its resources on as the following:
- Sponsored agreements between internet service providers and the community entities that hold the contracts.
- Gap networks – neighborhood size wireless networks built to address affordability.
- Outreach and sign up support for the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit and when that offer ends, for discount plans.
- Computer refurbishment to develop a pipeline of low-cost computers for home placement.
- Technical support for devices.
- Development of regional digital equity coalitions.
- Digital navigation service provided by local trusted institutions and organizations.
- Digital literacy training provided by local trusted institutions and organizations.
“Every Massachusetts community must have a robust digital inclusion ecosystem with free and low-cost home broadband options, free and low-cost computers, accessible digital literacy training, digital navigation and technical support” Siefer said. “Technology will keep changing. Systems change is essential if we are to come close to digital resiliency.”