RECAP: Affordability Task Force Convening | July 28, 2021
Updated: Sep 2
Affordability Task Force Objective
Planning for high-quality, sustainable, affordable, and equitable service for households and communities
The Affordability Task Force held its third meeting on July 28, 2021, and included representatives from multiple sectors interested in resolving the digital divide in the Los Angeles County region. The task force started to identify barriers and the best practices to reach unserved and underserved households (language, marketing reach, cost, partnering with trusted community organizations). Additionally, the co-chair provided an update on the California Public Utilities Commission draft resolution publication sent to the commission to approve the LA DEAL Consortium funding. The commission is scheduled to vote on Aug. 19, 2021.
Task force members guided how to define affordable from a community standpoint:
Public housing is concerned about temporary broadband benefits, and so, $50 is not affordable. $10 option would be ideal versus $15.
Connect and Compete Program cost $9.95. To qualify, people must be in a government-subsidized program. Recommends working with school districts, nonprofits to promote the information of the affordable program. Will share a map with the LA DEAL.
Consumers can call 311 to learn about the internet's low-rate plans. Most providers have a $15.00 per month option. Phone agents receive scripts to facilitate access to service providers.
What are the best practices for supporting the various languages spoken in L.A. County?
311 call centers provide support in 148 languages for those who are disconnected. Every shift has Spanish and Korean fluent speakers. 311 has a service providing support in 137 spoken languages--employee translates live to non-English Speakers. Also, do social media promo in English and Spanish.
Language is intertwined with relationships, and being culturally connected to callers is essential. For example, there are Indigenous languages speakers, but they are assumed to be Spanish speakers.
L.A. City and T-Mobile partnered with community-based organizations to distribute 1,800 hotspots to vulnerable youth--this is a best practice by the City of L.A., and T-Mobile has been effective. Community trust is essential, and therefore partnering with trusted organizations is a best practice.
According to a USC-CETF survey, 62 percent of unconnected or smartphone-only households are unaware of discount internet.
What are the challenges or opportunities for outreaching to the community?
There are different ways to reach the community: social media ads, connect with school PTAs, and set up school information to promote affordable rate plans. Long Beach City partnered with organizations to provide interpretation in Khmer to promote internet plans to constituents. It is essential to have someone from within the community to get the needed information to set up affordable rate plans. Comfort level eases people to subscribe.
There are broader issues with reaching out to community members—the opportunity to build outreach into infrastructure. Federal grants will allow for capacity-building support for the region. CBOs are critical and will be essential for networking building.
Identify additional ways to provide the information in multiple languages and put it into action via community engagement and trust.
CBOs and faith-based organizations need funding, and the LA DEAL is formulating having regional leaders. The consortium will be able to provide training and bring in speakers.
University surveys completed by students received a laptop so they can participate in new student orientation. Some students stated not having the technology; so, CSUs will provide IPADs based on need (not income-based).
Charter employees reflect the community served, and all the call centers are in the United States. CBOs help to amplify the information and partner closely with them.
COX and Charter use translation services for all Los Angeles spoken-languages
311 serves City of L.A. people only and will explore Countywide language support.
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 #4 is scheduled for Aug. 25, 2021.