by Robbie Imes, 7 min read
AT&T recently announced an initiative to bring strong, reliable broadband connectivity to more Americans through special low-cost offers, their participation in the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) and community involvement. With an investment of $2 billion over the next three years, this initiative was created to help address what has been called the “digital divide.”
What is the digital divide?
The digital divide began with the high costs of computers, which limited access for those who could not afford to buy a device. Given the necessity of the internet over the years, that created a major disadvantage. There was also the usability factor – those not educated on the myriad of uses of the technology and the equipment that supports it.
As technology creeps more and more into our lives, though, equipment affordability becomes less and less. What does remain a factor though is reliable access to the web and general digital literacy.
With AT&T’s commitment to bring affordability, educational resources and economic opportunities to millions of Americans facing the digital divide, the aim is to create a more harmonious society through digital equality.
How will AT&T do this?
AT&T plans to expand affordable broadband through its low-cost offers and the Emergency Broadband Benefit program administered by the FCC.
An announcement from AT&T details the three points of the plan as follows:
Education Offers: Discounted wireless solutions are offered to more than 135,000 public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. These offers help keep students and teachers connected in a 1:1 learning model to assist in transforming education beyond when schools reopen.
Access from AT&T: Introduced 5 years ago, this AT&T-funded program makes the internet more affordable for customers by providing qualifying households with wireline internet service at $10 or less per month. This voluntary offer from AT&T has no contract or installation fee. Plus, it includes in-home Wi-Fi at no additional cost.
Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB): Eligible customers will be able to temporarily reduce their monthly broadband costs by taking advantage of the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). This government program administered by the FCC will allow more than 30 million eligible households to receive an additional subsidy of up to $50 a month. Those on tribal lands are eligible for up to $75 per month. The monthly cost of broadband – after applying the Emergency Broadband Benefit – can fall to as low as $0 a month.
The EBB can be applied to eligible home internet services like Access from AT&T or AT&T Internet, available within our 21-state wireline footprint. Or it can be applied toward eligible postpaid or prepaid wireless plans at AT&T, AT&T PREPAID and Cricket Wireless, which are available in all 50 states.
Once customers verify that they are eligible, AT&T will apply the benefit to the customer’s service until the EBB ends. The uniform program start date is pending an FCC announcement.
Building Educational Foundations
In addition, AT&T has engaged with AT&T Connected Learning, an initiative to help children learn in new and exciting ways as the pandemic wans.
AT&T Connected Learning is a multi-year commitment that builds on previous investments and long-standing commitments to education. It includes multiple solutions to connect learners with the resources and opportunities for success in school and in life.
Together with WarnerMedia, AT&T is developing a digital learning platform that will deliver educational content wherever students are.
- Exclusive educational content from WarnerMedia properties and talent.
- Learning tools from leading education groups to help students and families navigate distance learning and improve academic success.
- In collaboration with AT&T employees and local organizations, the company will launch 20 AT&T Connected Learning Centers in 2021.
The Connected Learning Centers will be in underserved neighborhoods where accessing connectivity can often be a challenge. Each facility will feature high-speed AT&T Fiber internet, Wi-Fi for devices like laptops and tablets and full access to the WarnerMedia content library.
Tutoring and mentorships through the AT&T Believes volunteer initiative will also be available. Partnering with the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association, AT&T will also offer digital literacy courses for parents and children to help build the skills to help families navigate distance learning and participate effectively and safely.
1Eligibility determined by the National Lifeline Eligiblity Verifier (National Verifier), managed by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). For more information on eligibility criteria for the EBB visit getemergencybroadband.org.
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