The Digital Divide has become more apparent in the last year than it ever has before. Largely due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, when many people were sent to learn and work from home, access to adequate internet became a prevalent issue. There is a gap between those who have broadband available to them and those that do not, the biggest reasons for the gap being living in a rural or low-income area. This is the Digital Divide.
Those in the rural or low-income areas do not have access to either broadband or the technology to use it. You cannot have one without the other. One issue providers face when considering the build of high-speed internet these areas is adoption of the service. If they do not have technology, they will not utilize the service – but they don’t have technology because there is no service to use it. Due to the high cost of building out high-speed fiber internet, broadband providers must see that there will be adoption of the service.
While city officials have attempted to assist in solving the digital divide, it is important to the industry that as broadband providers, we work to solve it. The best way for cities to assist broadband providers in closing the gap is to provide funding and to help with education of technology to help solve the adoption hurdle.
In August and September of 2020, Socket was excited to receive funding from the Emergency Broadband Grant Program. The funding from the State of Missouri to build out our fiber network throughout rural and low-income parts of mid-Missouri including areas of Ashland, Fayette, Moberly, New Franklin, and St. Martins. Receiving this funding was vital in Socket working towards closing the digital divide and helped those who were affected by COVID-19 by having high-speed fiber internet to their home to assist in virtually working and learning.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now made funding available via the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to help secure your internet connection throughout the remainder of the pandemic. Socket has qualified to be an approved provider and we are here to help you take advantage of this program.
Through the EBB, Socket can work with you to provide a $50/month discount for broadband service for eligible households. This is a temporary program and expires when funds are exhausted or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares the end of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This is limited to once monthly service discount per household.
Who is able to get this discount and how do I get it?
1. Visit www.fcc.gov/consumer-faq-emergency-broadband-benefit for details on who qualifies for the discount.
2. Verify you are within Socket’s service area at www.socket.net/fiberhood and scroll down the page to enter your address.
3. Visit www.checklifeline.org to register as a qualified consumer.
4. Call 800-762-5383 and ask for our EBB Program Specialist to complete the process.
We are proud to be an approved provider for this program and are working to close the gap of the digital divide.