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How Congress can close the digital divide in Arizona

Arizona will receive nearly $1 billion in federal funding for a massive new broadband infrastructure initiative. Broadband Assets, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program will start. This massive investment has the potential to make a big difference to the state’s residents and close the digital divide in Arizona.

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A nationwide $42.5 billion federal grant program has long been needed to make broadband (think high-speed internet for homes and businesses) accessible and affordable for families in Arizona and the United States. It provides critical funding for infrastructure improvements that have been made.

Internet is also important for families Arizona Economy. And this once-in-a-generation investment helps ensure access for everyone, regardless of age, occupation or income. But there are pitfalls.

To get the most out of BEAD funding in our state, Congress needs to take action on another program that is directly related to its success — one that could quickly run out of money.Congress must extend affordable connectivity program (ACP) is encouraging Internet service providers to take advantage of these new federal funds. Like BEAD, ACP is also included in the Infrastructure Act, offering low-income households $30 a month to help pay for high-speed internet in their homes.

This is a big moment for Arizona. The business, education and healthcare sectors are also taking note, as this heavy investment in technology infrastructure is essential for the future prosperity of families and a strong economy.

Maricopa County has the second most underserved and underserved broadband accessin the countryside, 39,490 households. (The highest number is in rural Cochise County, with 41,107.) More than 1 in 10 of her Arizonas have internet access, no money, or no internet access. , I can’t use the internet. skills to use it. The time has come to change this status quo.

Common Sense Media Proprietary analysis We found that ACP reduced the cost of connecting ISPs to our homes. In fact, this has resulted in an estimated 25% reduction in per-household subsidies needed to encourage rural health care providers. And, according to Benton InstituteRural households actually enroll in ACP benefits at a slightly higher rate than urban households.

Studies demonstrate that reliable, high-speed internet improves access to education, employment opportunities, and skilled labor. It helps provide applicants with training and other resources that will improve their qualifications for high-paying jobs, wherever they live. Connectivity also increases employment and income, and creates more than that. Economic Price: $2,200 Benefit low-income households.

No one knows better than Phoenix’s mother, Leah Larson. She started homeschooling her children after struggling to adjust to her classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic. Until recently, Leah’s ability to teach was limited by her slow home internet connection (phone hotspot) and splitting one tablet between her four children.

Our research shows that when students like Leah remain disconnected, Estimated Annual Loss The share of the country’s GDP is $33 billion. Once the network is in place, everyone will have access to high-speed broadband services.that’s why common sense continues to work with local partners to ensure that vulnerable families have access to internet services once they become available. You can and should participate in this historic opportunity to bridge the digital divide in Arizona. One way is planning process Towards a state digital equity plan that ensures every community has the support they need to succeed online.

Congress cannot afford to run out of ACP funds. Arizona families and their children rely on this to stay connected and thrive.

author: Ilana Lowry is a film director from Arizona.conventional mediaIt is one of America’s leading advocacy groups focused on the well-being of children and families.

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