Digital Equity Newsletter – May 2024

News Article
Affordable Connectivity Program update, Digital Equity Act (DEA) notice of funding opportunity, Broadband Equity Study community event wrap-up
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Affordable Connectivity Program Update

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is most likely coming to an end in mid-May.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have begun sending out notification letters informing consumers that the funding for ACP may end.

It’s important that consumers are aware of the status of ACP and prepare for this benefit to be discontinued so that consumers that cannot afford the monthly plan they currently have under ACP don’t end up with past due bills, lose their internet connection and end up in collections for non-payment.

Consumers that live in Oregon can apply for the Oregon Lifeline Program that can pay up to $19.25 of a monthly internet bill for those that qualify. This may be a much-needed resource for folks that were subscribed to ACP.

Not all internet providers participate in the Oregon Lifeline Program. You can contact you internet service provider to ask or review the participating provider list on the Oregon Lifeline website.

It’s important to note that the Oregon Lifeline Program has a lower income limit (135% of federal poverty level (FPL)) to determine eligibility than ACP (200% FPL).

For Comcast/Xfinity ACP subscribers:

  1. There is a 90 day wait. Pre-existing debt waivers are scheduled to expire June 30, 2024.
  2. If an Xfinity customer who is losing the ACP benefit wants to downgrade their internet service from a higher cost plan to a lower cost plan they must do so by June 30. Otherwise, they will have to wait 90 days to downgrade.
  3. A customer with pre-existing debt to Comcast (more than 12 mos old) has until June 30 to enroll in Intenet Essentials (IE or IEPlus). After that time the existence of debt may make subscribing an impossibility. Comcast may or may not extend these waivers beyond June 30.

Digital Equity Act (DEA) Notice of Funding Opportunity

In April, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the DEA Capacity Building Grant. The grant is available to US States, Territories, and Tribal Entities.

The intent is that the Capacity Building Grant will be used by eligible entities to implement approved statewide Digital Equity Plans. For Portland, this means that the Oregon Broadband Office (OBO) is able to apply for the grant and must submit an application by May 28, 2024.

According to the NOFO, Oregon has been allocated approximately $10 million. OBO will need to submit an application to NTIA that indicates how they intend to use that money. This will include whether or not OBO intends to sub-grant any of the funds as well as who can apply for the sub-grants and how. The Community Technology Group will provide more information on Oregon’s grant application as soon as we have it.

This NOFO may include some potential good news for the Portland area! NTIA explicitly states that these funds should not be used for deployment purposes. This means that the Portland area should be eligible to apply for any subgrants if OBO decides to subgrant the money.

Community participation is encouraged to show your support for urban areas like our City of Portland, to have a chance to apply for some of the DEA Grant Funds. You can contact Leina Gonzalez-Baird, the Digital Equity Coordinator for the state, Leina Gonazalez-Baird, at 971-707-8159 or via email at leina.gonzalez-baird@bsiz.oregon.gov.


Digital Inclusion (DI) Fund grants

The DI Fund small business grants are underway! The grant application opened 3/28 and closed on 4/19. We received a total of 35 applications, 20 of which met the basic eligibility criteria. A selection committee of 5 community partners/leaders reviewed the applications and decided on 6 grant awardees. We hope to announce grantees next week! Stay tuned!


Digital navigators survey

Digital navigators come in many forms. The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is researching to better understand how digital navigator programs are being conducted around the country.

Whether it's assisting people with their devices, helping patients learn to use telehealth portals, or working on affordable housing or financial literacy - if your organization provides these or similar services, please complete and share this brief survey to help capture the human capital that goes into bringing digital equity to communities around the country.

Complete the survey


Broadband Equity Study Community Event #2

We would like to express our gratitude to everyone who participated in the Portland Broadband Equity Study stakeholder meetings. Your valuable feedback is highly appreciated. In case you missed the April 25 meeting, we have provided some follow-up materials, including the Miro board and our slide deck. The Miro board will be open for an additional week to allow further collaboration on ideas.

Next steps

Over the next several weeks, we will be conducting one-on-one interviews and small focus group discussions with Portland residents to gather information about their internet access experiences and challenges. We will then use this engagement process to incorporate the feedback into the final recommendations. Cascadia will publish a report that includes a vulnerability analysis, data gap analysis, and final recommendations as well as a website that shares quantitative and qualitative findings and recommendations for policymakers and elected leaders.

The report will be easily accessible on the City of Portland’s Broadband Equity Project website and will also be distributed through this newsletter. Our aim is to use these policy recommendations to guide our policy work for the Community Technology program, and we encourage you to stay updated and engaged with this important work.

If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Adriana Miranda at Adriana.y.miranda@portlandoregon.gov.


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