Cerrando la brecha digital en Alaska
In our state, the term digital equity means that all residents of Alaska have access to the necessary tools and knowledge to use the internet without obstacles or barriers. When the COVID-19 lockdown began in 2020, Alaskans quickly realized that internet access had become a necessity, key to participation in society, democracy, and the economy. However, almost one in five residents of Alaska does not use the internet and 30% do not use a computer or tablet. More than 75% of Alaskans cannot buy broadband at an affordable price. In fact, Alaska ranks 42 out of 50 states in terms of internet coverage, speed, and availability. This disparity in access means that many residents of Alaska are left behind in terms of accessing vital information, communicating for work and/or entertainment, and participating in local and broader communities.
It is essential to address this problem if we want to ensure that our community is ready to succeed in the digital age. That is why at Sol de Medianoche, we have partnered with the Rasmuson Foundation as part of the ConnectAK project. The goal of this project is to achieve digital equity in the state. At this stage, this project will be gathering information to understand the needs of our community and create a Comprehensive Action Plan. If you are part of Alaska’s Latino community and want to collaborate on this effort, you can fill out our survey about internet access in the state by scanning the QR code at the bottom of this article.
In addition, in our print editions, we will include articles with information about digital equity, digital literacy, or resources available, to ensure access to the internet. All of this will be accompanied by special content on digital skills to navigate the digital world on our social media pages. In this edition, we will be talking about the Internet Discount Program. This is an initiative of the FCC that seeks to offer economic relief to low-income households so that they can access high-speed internet, an essential tool for telemedicine, social support programs, education, tax services, and rural access. This program offers a $30 discount per month on the service bill and rental, as well as unique discounts of up to $100 on laptops, desktops, or tablets. In this case, consumers only have to make a co-payment between $10-$50.
To qualify, households must meet one of the following requirements: have an income equal to or less than 200% of federal poverty guidelines, have received a Pell Grant, participate in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, FoodStamps, among others. In addition, the program offers consumer protection by guiding them in choosing the plan that best suits their needs and offering an established process for addressing complaints.
For more information, you can visit the website affordableconnectivity.gov. To fill out the application, you can do it online (ACP.gov) or by phone (877 84 2575) where you can request an application to be sent to your home. Some providers have permission from the FCC to enroll their customers in this program. So before filling out the form, if you already have a provider, you can ask if they participate and if they have permission to enroll.
Fill the survey in this link: (https://forms.gle/p1qD6iiBggKg1ZFx7)