Teacher and Student

A study conducted by Comcast and Discovery Education notes that the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) helps families gain access to low-cost high speed Internet. It points out, however, that it lacks “centralized resources and direct support” that are necessary to bridge the digital divide.

The ACP program pays $30 a month toward the cost of internet service for low-income families.

The researchers suggested that teachers overestimated the problems that families face in using the internet. A relatively large share of teachers thought that families did not live in buildings that were wired for broadband in comparison with the share of parents who cited these barriers, for example.

Comcast said the findings support a recommendation for school systems to partner with proven and trusted programs such as those that include support from Digital Navigators.

“Ensuring every student in America has access to reliable, high-speed Internet in the classroom and at home is a top priority for Comcast’s Project UP,” Broderick Johnson, EVP of Public Policy and EVP of Digital Equity, Comcast Corporation said in a press release. “The combination of historic investments in universal broadband, public-private collaboration, and private industry support will together ensure that neither availability nor affordability stand in the way of achieving connectivity for everyone.” 

Some key takeaways from the survey:

  • The importance of high speed Internet was all but assumed. Eighty-two percent of families and 80% of educators felt strongly that high-speed Internet at home is extremely important to fulfilling learning outcomes.
  • Knowledge and acceptance of ACP among parents is lagging. Thirty-nine percent of parents were aware of the ACP. Of those that were aware, just 13% have signed up.
  • The perception is that knowledge of high speed Internet among administrators is not deep. Only 22 percent of educators strongly agree that administrators in their school districts have the necessary information to communicate options for high-speed internet access at home.
  • There was a 52-percentage-point difference between the share of teachers who thought that cost of service was the primary barrier to adoption for families versus the actual share of parents who pointed to cost as a barrier.

A report released in late August by regional fiber provider Bluepeak found that ACP helps subscribers do such things as find jobs, apply for financial aid or college admission, do homework and participate in distance learning. The survey involved ACP users in South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming and Oklahoma.

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