Today, Internet For All Now (IFAN) and Get Connected! serve as a catalyst for closing the Digital Divide with the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) providing a consumer-focused platform with information and resources for obtaining affordable home Internet access and digital skills. The IFAN website provides information on affordable high-speed home Internet in multiple languages, Digital Literacy classes and events, Digital Equity advocacy, and tools for community leaders to conduct outreach and increase awareness in digitally-disadvantaged communities.
The Internet For All Now Act, Assembly Bill 1665, was officially signed into Legislation in 2017 with the goal of connecting all communities to high-speed Internet. The Internet For All Now Act was introduced by Assemblymembers Eduardo Garcia, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Chris Holden, Kevin McCarty, Rob Bonta, Brian Dahle, James Gallagher, Evan Low, Miguel Santiago, Mark Stone, and Jim Wood; principal co-authors: David Chiu, Susan Eggman, Kevin Mullin; and co-authors Senators Anna Caballero, Mike Gipson, Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Tom Lackey, Marc Levine, Jose Medina, Eloise Gómez Reyes, Blanca Rubio, and Devon Mathis—an impressive, bipartisan list of Legislators. Assembly and Senate Policy Committee Chairs Miguel Santiago and Ben Hueso recognized the need for action and encouraged negotiations among stakeholders to reach consensus. These Legislators have served as true trailblazers in ensuring California remains economically competitive and a national leader in closing the Digital Divide. Learn more about the Legislative Champions of the Internet For All Now Act. [Link Leg Champs page]
The Internet for All Now website was launched in 2015 as part of mobilization to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take 2 critical steps to help close the Digital Divide:
Establish an inclusive Broadband Lifeline Program that addresses the 3 primary barriers to broadband adoption by low-income households: (1) Cost; (2) Relevance; and (3) Digital Literacy.
Require corporate consolidations to improve and expand affordable home Internet service if it approves proposed mergers. CETF Calls on ISPs, Public Agencies to Step Up Outreach for Broadband Subsidies
Statement CETF PRESIDENT AND CEO SUNNE WRIGHT MCPEAK
The Quest for Digital Equity must recognize that the Digital Divide is simply another manifestation of the Economic Divide and that concentrated persistent poverty is rooted in institutionalized racism. Thus, closing the Digital Divide must address the inter-related factors and forces that we call the “wall of poverty” that make it very difficult for low-income residents to escape oppressive economic conditions and succeed in school. This reality screams for systemic change that is within our grasp if policymakers and regulators are willing to overcome bureaucratic inertia and break through government silos.
The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated the Digital Divide and laid bare the widespread inequities that demand immediate action to accelerate the deployment and adoption of broadband throughout the state. Distance learning, telehealth, and working from home require ubiquitous high-speed Internet infrastructure and digitally-disadvantaged households need assistance in-language and in-culture to get online. The most effective and efficient way to accomplish these goals is through a sincere public-private partnership in which (a) Internet Service Providers step up to increase advertising about their affordable offers in collaboration with community media, remove barriers for low-income households to sign up, and to partner with community organizations as trusted messengers and (b) all governments and public agencies remove barriers to constructing broadband infrastructure and distribute affordable offers to all low-income households. This is just common sense, but the opportunity still eludes both sides from joining forces in a deep and abiding partnership with a sense of urgency that embraces Digital Equity as a 21st Century Civil Right.
We applaud the Governor’s Broadband For All initiative and are grateful to Legislators for leading to secure essential funding and reforms. The Digital Divide Task Force convened by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has the opportunity to transform education. However, technology is only a tool—powerful and empowering—but, must be coupled to the pursuit of academic excellence for all students to truly close the Digital Divide. As Dr. Manuel Pastor says, Digital Inclusion must be “baked in” not “sprinkled on” policy and practice. It must be infused and integrated into everything we do to achieve Digital Equity. Yet, we also must do more—it is time to make “Good Trouble” as we were implored by The Honorable John Lewis.
The companion pandemics of COVID-19 and de facto economic segregation compel us to renew a collective commitment to tackle poverty with a laser focus that realigns public resources and attracts private investment with accountability for results. The sobering realities confront us with these questions: Will protest lead the way to policy? Will the substance of our actions match the power of symbols? Will we finally come together to deliver for everyone on the promise of America and the potential of California? It is only a matter of LEADERSHIP to say YES to a better future for all Californians.
Sunne Wright McPeak
President and CEO
California Emerging Technology Fund