While the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the digital divide in the United States, cable internet service providers have long been committed to providing connectivity to as many Americans as possible. Using a multi-pronged approach, at the start of the pandemic in 2020 cable ISPs responded to the global health crisis by further expanding their successful broadband adoption programs to more qualifying households.
Over the past decade, low-cost broadband adoption programs have connected over 14 million Americans to the internet. These low-cost programs offer broadband service for as low as $9.99 a month and often provide qualifying households with free connected devices or digital literacy training for every member of the family.
The digital divide encompasses more than broadband service—the usefulness of that service is determined by how much a person can do using that connection. And if someone has little to no digital experience, the problems associated with the digital divide are still perpetuated. That’s why programs like Connect2Compete and Internet Essentials establish free training and digital literacy programs to ensure a more equitable future.
As the pandemic changed the landscape of modern work, it also had the potential to grow the digital divide. That’s why these programs were expanded (a trend that began before COVID-19) to include more qualifying families, as well as senior citizens and military veterans.
As new challenges arise, and as the U.S. continues to battle the pandemic, these programs have adapted to better serve the people who benefit from them. To learn more about the variety of ways the cable industry is working to close the digital divide, be sure to check out NCTA’s webpage on broadband adoption programs and other programs aimed at solving this issue.