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FCC’s Broadband Adoption Lifeline Pilots Featuring Connect Ohio Programs Now Underway Across Ohio
Connect Ohio’s efforts to increase broadband access, adoption, and use among low-income populations are key components of the FCC’s new broadband adoption Lifeline pilot programs now underway in Ohio. Today, May 1, according to the FCC, is the official start of the $14 million Lifeline pilot program in which 14 diverse provider projects will offer discount broadband service to targeted low-income households.
Connect Ohio is partnering with 3 Ohio broadband providers across the state who are participating in the Lifeline pilot program. As part of the pilot program, providers will be offering varying broadband subsidies to its customers and offering Connect Ohio’s Every Citizen Online (ECO) digital literacy training program, as well as access to low-cost broadband and devices to the recipients.
The FCC’s Lifeline broadband pilot projects will test how best to increase adoption of high-speed Internet among low-income Americans, a group with strikingly low adoption levels. The FCC established the Lifeline broadband pilot program last year as a competitive selection program for projects to gather data regarding what programs would result in higher adoption rates among low-income consumers.
Connect Ohio works to overcome the three leading barriers to broadband adoption - cost, literacy, and relevance - and advance the adoption of broadband technology. The ECO program was designed to overcome one of the main barriers to broadband adoption and a lack of digital skills.
Frontier Communications has partnered with Connect Ohio through the ECO program to provide computer training to willing participants with the goal of demonstrating the value of broadband use. At present, only 71 percent of Ohioans subscribe to broadband service in their homes. Since December 2010, ECO has trained more than 36,000 participants at more than 300 locations throughout Ohio.
“Connect Ohio is proud to join Frontier Communications in this innovative broadband pilot program by offering our renowned Every Citizen Online training,” said Stu Johnson, executive director of Connect Ohio. “By being awarded this project, Frontier demonstrates its continued commitment to connecting those most in need in Ohio and West Virginia while addressing primary technology barriers—broadband availability, digital literacy training, computer ownership, and affordable monthly service charges.”
While these Lifeline programs are pilots, the target is greater – In Ohio, 1.1 million low-income households without broadband could be impacted if these programs are rolled out on a larger scale.
Connect Ohio is playing a key role in the pilots in development, research, and working with community partners to facilitate the basic computer and Internet training for pilot participants. As the leading non-profit entity working in this area, Connect Ohio has a unique ability to quantify the impact of these efforts:
· 334,000 low-income households cite the cost of broadband or a computer as the main reason why they don't subscribe, and 151,000 cite a lack of digital skills as the main reason they are non-adopters.
· Approximately 75,000 low-income adults in the Ohio do not subscribe to broadband because they do not know how to use or access the Internet, while another 57,000 do not know how to use a computer.