State Government COVID-19 Digital Inclusion Response

Local Government ResponsesCOVID-19 Resources

The onset of a global health pandemic has put a spotlight on digital inclusion. NDIA is documenting local government initiatives to encourage other local governments to address access to the internet (particularly at home), personal computers and tablets, and tech assistance. These initiatives are in addition to the FCC’s Keeping American’s Connected Pledge.

This page details state government initiatives across three categories:

Internet Access

  • Expansion of free public wifi (boosting wifi at public buildings parking lots, nearby housing, etc.)
  • Information about free and low cost internet options from wireline and mobile providers

Device Access

  • Funding (states that are opening and expanding grant programs for COVID-19)
  • Computer Refurbishers (states that are coordinating with state-wide computer refurbishers)

Tech Support 

  • Tech assistance hotlines, digital navigator programs (1:1 device, connectivity and tech support)
  • Online digital literacy training (live and pre-recorded lessons)

State-wide resources may be found here. Also see our Free and Low-Cost internet Plans. It should be noted that unless it is specifically identified, utility shut off orders do not protect broadband subscriptions.

This list will be updated as more local governments develop digital inclusion strategies. If you have additional information, please send to [email protected]

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Governments at all levels can and should lead…Not having internet in your home makes it harder to see a doctor or nurse without leaving your house, harder to do homework outside of the classroom, harder to start a small business, and in many cases harder to interact with your state and local government

Jeffrey R. Sural
Director at the Broadband Infrastructure Office
North Carolina Department of Information Technology

This list will be updated as more local governments develop digital inclusion strategies. If you have additional information, please send to [email protected].

 

Alabama

  • Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama has committed $100 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to purchase internet service for low-income households with eligible K-12 students. Eligible households will receive complete details and a prepaid voucher that will cover all related costs by U.S. mail by August, and should call the internet service provider of their choice, give them your voucher code, and sign up for service.

 Alaska

  • No state-level resources available

Arizona

  • The state has made a map available showing known public wifi internet hotspots.
  • The State of Arizona is partnering with Cisco to expand WiFi internet access to high-need communities across the state. installing new external wireless access points at local libraries, allowing students conducting distance learning and others to access WiFi from outside the building.

Arkansas

  • Available for the State of Arkansas is a map showing internet access points at public, county and regional libraries across the state.

California

  • California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) mandated, by way of executive order, the elimination of data caps and overage charges by internet service providers (ISPs).
  • The State of California has created a webpage describing access to affordable services provided by telecom and data companies.
  • The California Emerging Technology Fund has provided an information hotline for details about affordable internet: 1-844-841-INFO (4636).
  • The California Teleconnect Fund is offering a 50% discount on the monthly recurring service charge for mobile data services to rural small and medium school districts during the COVID-19 crisis allowing schools to extend the classroom to the home. Please see COVID-19 Distance Learning Discounts for more information.
  • Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order instructing state agencies to pursue minimum speeds of 100mbps, and directing the California Broadband Council to create a new State Broadband Action Plan by December 31 2020.

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

  • Delaware Gov. John Carney has announced $20 million in CARES Act funding will be used to extend high-speed internet in Delaware, in addition to funding to help families in need purchase computers and other devices to support remote or hybrid education, as well as remote work and more.

Florida

  • No state-level resources available

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

  • The Idaho Commission for Libraries has been awarded $2 million in CARES Act funding to help boost rural broadband connections, with the first $1 million going to public libraries in communities of fewer than 3,000 people, and the next $2million going to public libraries in communities of fewer than 10,000 people.

Illinois

  • The Citizens Utility Board of Illinois has compiled a list of benefits, responses and telecom/internet/cable options that providers are offering customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Indiana

  • Governor Holocomb of Indiana has issued an executive order that includes prohibiting the disconnection of any broadband or telecommunications service to customers in the state.

Iowa

Kansas

  • Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has issued an Executive Order mandating that all Kansas utility providers not under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Corporation Commission temporarily suspend the disconnection of services for non-payment, including telecommunications utilities and internet service providers.
  • The State of Kansas Finance Council approved $60 million in grants to be allocated to the improvement of state broadband infrastructure.
  • Governor Laura Kelly outlined 68 broadband projects financed by $49.2 million in federal pandemic funding  to help the state address the COVID-19 fallout across the education, health and business sectors
  • Governor Kelly announced the creation of the Office of Broadband Development, to be lead by Stanley Adams, and housed in the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Kentucky

Louisiana 

  • Through CARES Act funding via the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), $50 million  has been made available for Louisiana schools to address personal device needs and increased connectivity to facilitate distance learning for K-12 students

Maine

  • NetworkMaine is offering guest wifi networks to 140 schools so that they can offer free public wifi in their parking lots. Details at NetworkMaine’s website, here.
  • Also available is the NetworkMaine Study from Car Initiative map.

Maryland

  • Governor Hogan of Maryland has issued an executive order that includes preventing the termination of service by any ISP to its customers in the state.
  • Governor Hogan also announced that more than $45.6 million is set to be committed in additional education funding for Maryland students affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Massachusetts

  • With the support from the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech, KCST is facilitating temporary wireless hotspot services at community anchor institutions. Remaining unserved communities has been offered a temporary 250 Megabit per second (Mbps) wireless hotspot

Michigan

  • Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) telecommunications service assistance is available at  800-292-9555.

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

  • The State of Missouri has earmarked $50 million in CARES Act funding to help schools offer online learning and allow for greater use of telework and telemedicine strategies, Gov. Mike Parson announced.
  • Senator Roy Blunt and Missouri Ag Director Chris Chinn announced $2.9 million in federal CARES Act funds would be put towards laying over 53 miles of high-speed fiber broadband to connect the state’s southeast rural population

Montana

  • No state-level resources available

Nebraska

  • Nebraska’s Public Service Commission has issued an order allocating $1million via the Nebraska Universal Service Fund (NUSF), to reimburse ISPs for providing service to low income families. Certified carriers may file an application seeking NUSF support beginning May 1, 2020.

Nevada

  • No state-level resources available

New Hampshire

  • Governor Sununu of New Hampshire issued an Emergency Order that includes a temporary prohibition on disconnection or discontinuance of internet services.
  • Questions regarding cable, internet or VOIP services may be directed to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 603-271-3641 or by email at [email protected]

New Jersey

  • New Jersey Governor Phillip Murphy has mandated, by way of executive order, that  no cable or telecommunications provider that provides residential internet and voice services to New Jersey residents may shut off these services to users, unless they receive specific permission to do so from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
  • Governor Phillip Murphy has committed to spend approximately $115M of federal grant and CARES Act money on K-12 digital inclusion efforts focused on devices and broadband service.
  • The State of New Jersey has a publicly available map showing public access WIFI points across the state
  • Governor Murphy has extended an internet disconnection moratorium to November 15, affecting households that have school-age children that may be using internet service for educational purposes, and mandating reconnection for households with school-age students who have already lost internet connection.
  • Governor Murphy has mandated that, after the November 15 internet moratorium ends, ISPs are required to enroll customers with an already existing account in an interest free payment plan of at least 12 equal monthly installments, including the balance already due, prior to disconnecting the customer’s service.

New Mexico

  • Any internet or cell phone consumers who have had their accounts terminated may call the State of New Mexico’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-551-0518

New York

  • Congresswoman Nita Lowey announced more than $1.7 million in CARES act funding for the New York State Library Administrative Agency through the Institute for Museum and Library Services to support the purchase of internet-enabled devices and other essential technical support services.
  • The New York State Library and New York State Education Department are hosting a webinar series to assist individuals and organizations in understanding the challenges of digital equity. More information is available at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/digitalequity.

North Carolina

North Dakota

  • North Dakota lawmakers approved more than $31 million in funding for K-12 schools on Thursday, including $500,000 for broadband services to assist students in distance learning.

Ohio

  • InnovateOhio is partnering with local ISPs to create a map of public hotspot locations across the state.
  • All of Ohio’s Public Libraries have made wifi available and accessible from their parking lots. Find your local library here.
  • A $50 million CARES Act grant to purchase Wi-Fi hotspots and internet-enabled devices will waive a 50% match contribution for school districts to access the money.

Oklahoma

  • An Emergency Resource List has been published on OneNet.net, detailing resources provided by local telecommunications providers to residents and businesses in Oklahoma along with qualification criteria.

Oregon

Pennsylvania

  • The Pennsylvania Utility Commission has outlined Lifeline services for maintaining internet and telephone access, available to residents in the state.
  • The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has prohibited utility service terminations, including telecommunications, with the moratorium lasting for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster, issued by Gov. Tom Wolf, is in effect.
  • Governor Tom Wolf has announced $15 million in CARES Act funding to help schools in Pennsylvania fund high-speed internet platforms and remote learning.

Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island has created a resource list detailing telecommunications support available in the State. Nonprofit entities such as Mobile Beacon and PCsforPeople are providing devices and internet access to eligible individuals and households.
  • Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has announced that all households that have a WiFi hot-spot enabled smartphone and cell phone service from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint will be able to use the hotspot feature free of charge until May 13. There will be no activation fee, no usage fee, and no overage fee. Announcement available under School and Child Care Information

South Carolina

  • South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff has approved just over $26 million in broadband infrastructure projects to facilitate high-speed broadband available to homes, businesses, schools, health care services in under-served areas across South Carolina.
  • The South Carolina Department of Education has received a $15 million grant from the federal government to expand services to students without internet access.

South Dakota

  • Gov. Kristi Noem announced Tuesday that $41 million in federal CARES Act funding has gone toward education funding in the state, including providing technology and internet for students for use in remote learning.

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

  • Vermont Department of Public Service has listed resources on the availability of Internet and telecommunications services here
  • Also available is a map showing hotspot locations across the state.

Virginia

Virgin Islands

  • Just under $20 million in CARES Act funding has been allocated to the Virgin Islands Department of Education and will be distributed to school districts to secure to secure necessary technology for students and teachers.

Washington

West Virginia

  • Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia has announced that the state will invest $6 million in broadband expansion, setting up up approximately 1,000 locations in 55 counties at 688 K-12 schools, 255 libraries, 32 higher education institutions and 31 state parks.

Wisconsin

Wyoming

  • The Wyoming Public Service Commission has issued an order that includes prohibiting the suspension of services and issuing of late fees by telecommunications companies in the state.
  • Gov. Mark Gordon, alongside state legislators, have worked to develop a broadband expansion initiative, and allocated $86 million in federal CARES Act funding for expanded broadband infrastructure throughout the state.