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RECAP: Policy & Advocacy Task Force Convening | Nov. 1, 2021

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Policy & Advocacy Task Force Objective

Identifying priorities for public policy to permanently eliminate the digital divide



Summary

The Policy & Advocacy Task Force held its sixth meeting on Nov. 1, 2021, and included representatives from multiple sectors interested in resolving the digital divide in the Los Angeles County region. Taskforce members discussed the CPUC reply comments, L.A. County September 2021 ISD Report for Broadband Equity Partnership, and reviewed the proposed policy framework for the task force.



Discussion


The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors instructed the Director of Internal Services, in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer and County Counsel, to report back to the Board in 30 days with viable options for the County to facilitate residential access to reliable broadband service in low-income communities where greater than 20% of the households lack internet service. The proposed options must identify options, cost estimates and, possible funding sources to enable the implementation of internet access in 2021.


The following are some of the details for each of the proposed options:


Option 1:

  • Information from telecommunication carriers and ISPs on the availability and prices for connectivity in the impacted communities for up to 300,000 households.

  • Prices ranged from $10.00 to $74.99 per month, with download and upload speeds ranging from 5 megabits per second (Mbps) to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps).

  • Some included provisions for free equipment or devices, and some identified minimum levels of households and minimum annual commitments.

  • All required direct payment by the County on behalf of the residents.

  • Respondents offer subsidy programs that reduce the costs of broadband.

  • This option would be the quickest to implement and potentially cover many households at below-market rates.

Option 2:

  • Offers the County the potential of rapid deployment with consistent user experiences for households and potential service improvements over time.

  • The County will be able to control the footprint and quality of service of its networks and the opportunities for internet cost savings. The County could also partner with community-based organizations to employ community “Digital Navigators” for technical support.

  • This option has the advantage of directly delivering service under the County's oversight while maximizing the potential for partnerships in the communities most affected by the digital divide. It can be deployed rapidly and begin connecting households within months of the Board’s determination to move forward.

Option 3:

  • Offers the County control of the network and service delivery with a consistent experience to households in need and potential service improvements over time.

  • This option “future-proofs” the services while offering the most robust, fastest, and reliable service.

  • Deployment would take several years and substantial financial investments but could be advantageous with long-term economic and jurisdictional authority to achieve and sustain digital equity.


The task force also reviewed the draft policy framework to inform the LA DEAL's advocacy efforts. The recurring stands presented for consideration to guide the policy priorities:

  • Affordability - broaden affordability of the internet to unserved or underserved low-income communities and communities of color.

  • Marketing - promotion of affordable rate plans (EBB), broadens eligibility requirements, so more households qualify, and the affordable plan includes high-quality internet connection (e.g., 50MPS)

  • Increase competition of internet providers in low-income areas and communities of color (more than 2)

  • Infrastructure to support the building of fast internet to ensure the region keeps the demand for internet services


Taskforce members advised on the changes to be incorporated into the principal priorities and the criteria to determine the policy consideration to either support or oppose.




The Policy & Advocacy 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 #7 is scheduled for Dec. 6, 2021.




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