NCTA and EducationSuperHighway to Help Schools Identify Home Broadband Gaps
- By Dian Schaffhauser
organizations have kicked off a project to help increase home
connectivity for students. The "K-12
Bridge to Broadband"
initiative is the brainchild of the Internet
& Television Association (NCTA)
a national nonprofit that helped lead work to close the classroom
connectivity gap. The goal is to help public school districts and
states identify the students who need access to the internet and
potentially connect them.
endeavor included development of five "core
that participating companies agree to follow:
companies will create a "sponsored" service offering that
schools can specifically use to help students and families get
will work with districts to identify which students need broadband
service, including development of "standard processes"
that cover how to exchange information confidentially as part of
identifying student households lacking broadband service;
will develop a baseline set of eligibility standards, to help
schools assess which students are eligible to be connected under a
sponsored service agreement; one possible standard: to cover
households with students on the Free and Reduced Lunch program;
will minimize the amount of information needed when families sign
up, to maximize adoption; and
need to avoid using information supplied by schools for targeted
marketing of collateral services to participating families.
the program is open to any internet service providers, so far, eight
members of NCTA covering 80 percent of U.S. households have signed on
months, our local school district partners have told us that they
can't increase home access because they don't know which families are
without it," said Evan Marwell, the CEO and founder of
EducationSuperHighway, in a statement. "This isn't something we
can wait on, because every day, more students are falling behind. By
giving schools the data that shows which students need access, we can
speed up the process of getting kids back to learning as quickly as
broadband networks are continuing to play a critical role in helping
the nation adapt to changes in daily life required by the COVID
pandemic," added Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA. "As
the school year begins, these changes are front and center in many
parts of the country, with family rooms temporarily replacing
classrooms and more schools using online instruction to continue
their educational mission. In rising to these challenges, the cable
industry is continuing to provide robust and reliable service and is
redoubling our efforts to work collaboratively with schools,
communities and other partners to get families connected through
innovative new service models that will foster and sustain the
educational progress of our children."
the new program a "step in the right direction," Sherrilyn
Legal Defense Fund
president and director-counsel, noted that "there is more work
to be done to fully address the digital divide and eliminate the
racial disparities with regard to adequate access to the internet in
both rural and urban communities." Ifill encouraged broadband
providers and school districts "to continue to work together to
make sure that all of America's children receive the robust public
education to which they are entitled."
to each cable company's contacts is on
the K-12 Bridge to Broadband website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.