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RECAP: Affordability Task Force Convening | Sept. 29, 2021

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Affordability Task Force Objective

Planning for high-quality, sustainable, affordable, and equitable service for households and communities.



Summary

The Affordability Task Force held its fifth meeting on Sept. 29, 2021, and included representatives from multiple sectors interested in resolving the digital divide in the Los Angeles County region. The meeting began with an update on the CPUC Rulemaking Proceeding process and a review of the reply comments deadline. This included Commissioner Guzman Aceves’s request for comments regarding Federal Funding Account due by Oct. 29, 2021. This funding source would allocate resources to unserved and underserved regions.



Discussion


The common discussion themes from previous meetings were compiled and presented for discussion.


Current barriers preventing affordable internet access:

  • Lack of competition - impact the market incentives introductory offers

  • Establish benchmarks and incentives for ISPs to compete

  • Establish Business Bureau Seal of Approval

  • Language barriers and long wait times for non-English speakers

  • Affordable options rules - income eligibility - late payments prevent re-enrollment

  • Transparency of existing rate plans and services

It was suggested to include the availability of low-cost programs and evaluate why subsidy programs are not working as robust as intended:

  • Flier available for marketing

  • Article in L.A. Times today about the low uptake

  • Long-term sustainability and solution to affordability.

  • Other unknown factors to take into consideration other than cost

The lack of uptake may result from skepticism associated with the program and concern with how personal data will be used.


Additional findings presented:

  • Rate plans – Affordability

  • Paying $10-15 for low-income households

  • Emergency Broadband available for six months

  • Language Support Resources

  • 311 Call Center

  • Lynwood Unified School District 3-way connect

  • Spectrum – Charter developing a new model

Outreach and Marketing findings:

  • Lack of data on the number of families enrolled in affordable rate plans

  • Need to broaden marketing strategies to increase community uptake of affordable plans

  • Public awareness and community trust-building→ Partner with trusted messengers such as CBOs, faith-based, schools, libraries

  • Angeleno Future Corps launches next month, creating 100 youth to serve as friendly neighborhood geek squad in the City of Los Angeles.

There is a need to collect examples of case studies and best practices. What resources are presently available and consolidate the information into one location. We also know marketing strategies are not working effectively. There is a need to get the word out to households without internet access to apply for the affordable rate options. We also must consider the public perception that affordable internet is associated with low bandwidth and that higher pricing equates to faster speeds.



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 #6 is scheduled for Oct. 27, 2021.


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