RECAP: Affordability Task Force Convening | Aug. 25, 2021
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Affordability Task Force Objective
Planning for high-quality, sustainable, affordable, and equitable service for households and communities.
The Affordability Task Force held its fourth meeting on Aug. 25, 2021, and included representatives from multiple sectors interested in resolving the digital divide in the Los Angeles County region. The meeting began with an announcement of the approval of the Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia grant application for the Los Angeles Digital Equity Action League Consortium (LA DEAL) by the CPUC. The approval includes a grant award of $300,000 to be divided between the LAEDC and UNITE-LA, LA DEAL co-conveners. Additionally, Chase Stafford, the task force co-chair, was formally introduced and briefed on the Students Connected Internet Pilot, the lessons learned and accomplishments.
Partnership for LA Schools: https://partnershipla.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Students-Connected-one-pager.pptx-1.pdf
Partnership for LA Schools: https://partnershipla.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Partnership_2021_Bringing-Broadband-Home_WEB1.pdf
City of Long Beach: https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers-longbeach?partner=longbeach&custom=1
LA City: getconnectedlosangeles.lacity.org
The chairs provided a recap from the previous task force meeting:
Attempted to define affordability and community impact
Is broadband speed associated with affordability
Subsidies and rate plan the task force continues to broaden asset mapping to fully view the existing affordable rate plans across Los Angeles County
Marketing needs to increase the adoption of affordable rate plans subsidized plans
Supporting the multiple language needs in L.A. County by examining current best practices
Partnerships for LA Schools briefed the task force on the Students Connected Internet Pilot and the lessons and accomplishments acquired from the innovative project. This effort is modeled after the Chicago-sponsored service approach to help families experiencing barriers to access the internet. The project negotiated a large contract directly with an ISP provider to remove the obstacles for families. The pilot program connected 400 families with 50 Mbps down and 5 MPBs. The monthly cost per household is $30 per month, but families did not incur any charge given the acquisition of private funding.
Families experience significant challenges navigating the existing internet options.
The combination of data from internet providers and schools can be powerful for targeted support.
Schools hold the most significant relationships with families, and trust is critical.
Unserved families in need remain unserved.
Emergency Connectivity Fund can fund this model, and it is likely more districts will adopt this approach.
The pilot has resulted in the creation of trusted relationships between the Partnership and families, but more remains to be done, especially once funding ends for the pilot.
Long-Term Sustainability Plan for the Pilot
The pilot program is funded through the end of the school year and is partnering with LAUSD to determine how to expand to additional families, given existing federal funding.
The task force transitioned into a jam board discussion focused on community trust-building, a significant component for creating a sustainable model. The following is the list of questions and example feedback:
1. What are some of the barriers to the widespread adoption of EBB and other affordable programs?
Terms and conditions of affordable programs and plans
The lack of availability of marketing materials in a broader range of languages
Public awareness and community trust
2. What new strategies can we use to increase adoption rates (marketing, outreach, community, Geek-Squad, bilingual materials)?
Hiring employees from within under-served and unserved communities to increase employees understanding of community needs and connection
Promote broadband sign-ups in various communities
Invest in and work with trusted community partners
Targeting outreach based on household-level data
Protect families from future upselling
Rollout through schools and CBOs → CBOs can support the intake process
Set targets and incentives for ISPs to compete (who is providing the best affordable service and serving the most with low-cost plans)
Field marketing operations that go into communities/Partnerships with housing authorities and building owners to market directly to residents
Next month, Angeleno Future Corps will launch → with 100 new youth to serve as a friendly neighborhood geek squad in the City of Los Angeles.
Mailers are effective for Spectrum-Charter when efforts are targeted and the provider partners with trusted organizations, doing community engagement events and device giveaways. Free 360-day offer and do not require a social security number.
Starry has a strong marketing team that goes into the community and affordable housing buildings—replicating the New York City model that included wearing a t-shirt promoting the EBB program.
We need to protect families from upselling once affordable rate plans end, creating distrust and financial stress to families.
Create Business Bureau Seal of Approval to promote ISP competition
Created a portal-Connected LB that is available in English and Spanish to help access low-cost internet offers--funded through the Cares Act. Long Beach developed access guides on multiple internet plans with all information related to internet programs. Hard copies will be available to all public libraries.
The Affordability Task Force meets virtually monthly and includes education, health, nonprofit, education, business, city municipalities, and internet service providers. To learn more, visit: ladeal.org/events.
Meeting #5 is scheduled for Sept. 29, 2021.