State Government COVID-19 Digital Inclusion ResponseLocal Government ResponsesFree & Low Cost Internet Offers
The 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 four categories:
- Expansion of free public wifi (boosting wifi at public buildings parking lots, nearby housing, etc.)
- Providing easily accessible and user friendly information about free and low cost internet options from wireline and mobile providers
- Providing subsidies for home broadband service
- Supporting gap networks (hyper local networks built to address affordability) through regulation, technical assistance, bulk equipment purchasing, and funding.
- State funded broadband deployment grantees are required to have a low-cost offer.
- State funded broadband deployment grantees are required to financially support digital inclusion programs.
- Provides financial support to local organizations conducting outreach and guidance for federal broadband programs.
- Providing subsidies for devices
- Providing financial support of nonprofit computer refurbishers who sell devices at a discounted rate
- Provides computers to non-profit refurbishers which will then be made available to low-income households.
Tech Support & Digital Literacy
- Provides or funds tech assistance hotlines, digital navigator programs (1:1 device, connectivity and tech support).
- Funds digital literacy training.
Planning & Coordination Capacity
- Coordinates, provides facilitation/administrative support, provides technical assistance for and/or funds local coalition building.
- Coordinates, provides facilitation/administrative support, provides technical assistance for and/or funds state coalition building.
- Has a state digital equity office or dedicated digital equity staff in other office.
- Has a stand alone state digital equity plan or digital equity components in a state broadband plan.
- Has an interagency task force to educate agencies and help them develop approaches to digital equity.
It should be noted that unless it is specifically identified, utility shut-off orders do not protect broadband subscriptions.
“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].
- 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.
- No state-level resources available
- 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.
- Arizona has awarded its state library more than $650,000 to expand digital network access, purchase internet-accessible devices, and provide technical support services to citizens.
- Available for the State of Arkansas is a map showing internet access points at public, county and regional libraries across the state.
- 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.
- The Colorado Broadband Office has launched its COVID-19 Broadband Resources and Updates page, and includes information on staying connected for the general public, school and library broadband resources, and links to NDIA’s COVID-19 Resources page.
- Colorado’s Department of Education will be allocating $2 million in CARES Act money to help school districts increase broadband access for low-income families in both rural and urban parts of Colorado, through hot spots, possible towers and mobile broadband trucks.
- Governor Jared Polis has established the Colorado Broadband Advisory board via executive order with the goal of improving interagency coordination around efforts to bring high-speed Internet to Colorado residents.
- Connecticut has detailed a compilation of internet packages and offers currently being offered by ISPs in the state.
- Governor Lamont announced the Everybody Learns Initiative, a $43.5 million program to close the digital divide for students in Connecticut.
- Connecticut is launching a $43.5 million investment in remote learning solutions to close the digital divide in Connecticut and empower students across the state to learn from home.
- 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.
- The Florida Department of State has received $1,940,696 from the Institute of Museum and
Library Services (IMLS) to be used to respond to COVID-19, including the expansion digital network access, the purchase internet accessible devices, and the provision of technical support services.
- Georgia has established an Internet Access for COVID-10 page detailing options for internet by mobile phone as offered by ISPs, and a map of public wifi access locations in the state.
- Hawaii has detailed Low Cost Home Internet Services for low-income residents.
- The Hawaii Broadband Initiative has launched the COVID-19 Resources page and the Broadband Hui page, the latter including projects across the community to help drive broadband access, adoption and digital literacy.
- 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.
- 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.
- Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband have announced a new Digital Equity Package worth $750 000 to address gaps in digital access, adoption, and affordability for high-speed internet access. Th move is part of the Connect Illinois program, a $420 million investment to bring universal access throughout the state by 2024.
- 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 will make $50 million in federal CARES Act funding available for broadband internet expansion, with the State awarding the broadband contracts from August 21.
- 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.
- The state of Kentucky is allocating $8 million into a statewide effort to supply internet access to children in low-income homes as schools open with digital learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Public Service Commission (MPSC) telecommunications service assistance is available at 800-292-9555.
- The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development has created a downloadable list for companies in the state with service options related to COVID-19 response.
- Mississippi University for Women has created the Mississippi Parking Lot WiFi map to help residents find wifi access from parking lots, and hotspots that have been set up by private ISPs.
- The state has established the Mississippi Pandemic Response Broadband Availability Grant Program, providing grant funding to public school districts, independent schools, and Native American tribal schools for the purpose of expanding broadband access in the unserved areas of the state.
- 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.
- The state of Missouri has dedicated $5.25 million to purchase 12,500 hotspots for Federally Qualified Health Centers and Community Mental Health Centers to support access to telehealth services for vulnerable populations.
- No state-level resources available
- 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.
- No state-level resources available
- Governor Sununu of New Hampshire issued an Emergency Order that includes a temporary prohibition on disconnection or discontinuance of internet services.
- New Hampshire governor’s office has directed $50 million in CRF money to the Connecting New Hampshire – Emergency Broadband Expansion Program, which will support deployment projects that provide families, students, and businesses with connections to work, learn, and operate during the pandemic.
- 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 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.
- The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund announced it has pledged more than $2.6 million to help school districts in the areas of Newark, Paterson, Passaic, Bridgeton, Millville, Red Bank, Old Bridge, Freehold and Trenton with the purchase of laptop computers, Wi-Fi hotspots and internet access needed for remote learning.
- 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.
- 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/
- North Carolina has created an Internet Service Offerings Map showing internet access areas available to the public during the pandemic. The infrastructure office also describes a list of new and existing free wifi access points.
- Governor Roy Cooper pledged just under $40 million in funding for NC Student Connect, a new partnership created to address internet connectivity gaps in remote learning for North Carolina students.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced a new effort to expand affordable broadband access in East Cleveland, Ohio
- 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 has listed information on free internet service, halting of service suspension and internet access.
- The Oregon Citizen’s Utility Board (CUB) has been approved in its proposal to allocate $3.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief dollars to boost the Oregon Telephone Assistance Program (OTAP), in order to help low-income households pay for their phone or broadband services. To apply for OTAP, call 1-800-848-4442 Monday through Friday 9am – 4pm, or e-mail [email protected]
- 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 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 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.
- 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.
The office of Gov. Kristi Noem has announced that the state of South Dakota is now offering a new internet initiative that will provide internet to eligible K-12 students in their homes and at no cost for the remainder of this school year.
- Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development has listed its COVID-19 Broadband Resources.
- Links are available to educational nonprofit technology resources, and NDIA’s Free and Low-cost Internet Plans.
- The State of Tennessee has made made $20 million of CRF money available for grants to help institutions of higher education implement technological improvements to ease the transition to online learning
- Connected Nation Texas has created a description of ISP responses to the pandemic across the state, as well as the option for non-Texas Public Utility Commission affiliated ISPs to include their response strategies.
- Operation Connectivity aims to connect all Texas public school students with a device and reliable internet connection. The initiative addresses issues of technology, policy, and funding to provide a pathway for Local Education Agencies to connect their students.
- $200 million in federal CARES Act funding is being allocated to the Texas Education Agency for the purchase of e-learning devices and home internet solutions to enable remote learning for students who lack connectivity in the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
- Texas State Library and Archives Commission has made Mobile WiFi Hotspot Recommendation available to provide links to accessories, policies, and lessons for those looking to make use of Library hotspot lenders
- Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s Mobile WiFi Hotspot Info from Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) allows users to find vetted vendors of WiFi hotspots.
- Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Texas Education Agency has funded the purchase of more than 4.5 million computers and Wi-Fi hotspots for schools and students
- The Utah State Board of Education is adding $1 million to its previous $5 million allocation from the agency’s state Coronavirus Relief Funds to extend the reach of a competitive grant program to bring broadband access or hotspots to the households of K-12 students.
- Governor Gary Herbert has announced $25 million for broadband internet upgrades in northern and eastern Utah
- 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.
- The state of Vermont has set aside $9 million of CARES Act funding for health management programs, including COVID-19 outreach and education and expanded access to telehealth across the state.
- Vermont has dedicated $17.4 million to a COVID-Response Accelerated Broadband Connectivity Program, including initiatives to build infrastructure to connect households, businesses, and other structures to high-speed internet.
- Vermont’s COVID-Response Accelerated Broadband Connectivity Program is providing up to $3,000 in financial assistance for line extensions, which expand connectivity to unserved streets and neighborhoods.
- The state of Vermont has created a temporary subsidy program to provide qualifying households with up to $20 a month to help pay for internet connections needed for online learning, work, or telehealth.
- CommonwealthConnect has established a COVID-19 Broadband Resources Page, including a Broadband Toolkit and list of COVID-19 responses from ISPs operating in the state.
- CommonwealthConnect has created a Broadband Survey.
- CommonwealthConnect has created a wifi hotspot locations map showing all public wifi access points, and password-available wifi access points across the State of Virginia.
- 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 State Library has created a Wifi Locations Page that holds a map of public library internet access points just outside the building or facility.
- The state will be providing $8.8 Million in CARES Act funds to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to assist low-income families in buying internet plans and address other technology needs.
- ‘All in WA’ has pledged to raise $10 million to improve digital access for students learning remotely
- 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.
- The state has created a Wisconsin Wifi Finder showing all public wifi locations and location types
- Wisconsin Public Service Commission published a Broadband Emergency Internet Resources page listing low-cost or free broadband (by county) and ISP policies and restrictions.
- The Commission’s website offers contact information for NDIA affiliates operating in the state and their broadband subscription programs, such as Human-I-T and PCsforPeople.
- The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has issued an order stating that nonprofits seeking Universal Service Fund (USF) grant funding for the purpose of providing affordable access to telecommunications services may view the Grant Solicitation Cover Letter and use the Nonprofit Access Grant Program 2020 Application Instructions and Forms. Submission deadline is May 26, 4pm CT.
- The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and CESA Purchasing have partnered to provide discounted pricing on internet, devices, and learning management systems
- Gov. Tony Evers has called on the Legislature to update Wisconsin’s unemployment payment system and spend nearly $200 million to expand broadband access, as per his State of the State speech
- 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.
This page is sponsored by: