The fall semester for schools across the country is at its peak, and this year, unlike the last couple, looks a lot like pre-pandemic times. But in many ways, student learning has completely transformed over the past 2.5 years, with online learning becoming an important component in education.
Why It Matters: With more students now connected to the internet at home, high-speed broadband is powering online instruction and virtual experiences that were far less prevalent prior to COVID.
How It Happened: This is thanks to the strong partnerships forged between cable providers and school districts, local governments, nonprofits, philanthropists, and community organizations that came together over the past few years to identify unconnected student households, install high-speed internet access in their homes, and provide the necessary internet-connected equipment to create the school experiences of today.
Cable-Led Initiatives Resulted in More Student-Connected Households
Cable providers have run successful broadband adoption programs for over a decade, and connected more than 14 million people through its discounted internet services. But when the pandemic first shut down schools nationwide in March 2020, the cable industry doubled down their efforts to spread awareness about their programs through their trusted community partnerships and to get as many unconnected student households signed up as possible—and many of these programs continue today.
A small handful of these successful initiatives include:
- NCTA and EducationSuperHighway's K-12 Bridge to Broadband initiative, which was formed in 2020 and offers a blueprint and best practices for K-12 school districts to implement in remote learning plans
- Chicago Connected, which involves the collaborative efforts of Comcast, Chicago Public Schools, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and numerous other organizations, and has connected more than 100,000 students to high-speed internet since the start of the pandemic
- Connecting Kids, which includes Cox, the city of Las Vegas, the Clark County School District and many other nonprofits and private organizations, has connected every K-12 student in Nevada to high-speed internet
- Waterloo, Iowa’s and Mediacom’s partnership, in which Mediacom stepped in to cover 100% of internet installation costs and materials costs for the school district's unconnected students, helping to not only minimize learning loss during school closures but to give eligible families additional options for free and discounted internet service
ACP's Role in Helping Cable Providers Reach Even More People
The federal government's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is critical to the work of cable providers in ensuring that more families are connected to the internet.
- ACP provides a monthly discount for internet service up to $30 per eligible household.
- NCTA members are eager participants in the ACP, which helps to further remove cost barriers for families.
Building new broadband networks to reach unconnected households is the next big challenge but cable providers are committed to being part of the solution. New infrastructure combined with public-private partnerships and programs like ACP will unleash a world of possibility for millions of more American families.