Delaware broadband internet service

State to push federal program that helps pay internet costs

Sam HautGovernment, Headlines

Delaware broadband internet service

15 Delaware towns and cities will hold programs to show lower-income households how to sign up for a federal program that lowers internet costs. Photo by Pixabay/Pexels.

Delaware officials are mounting a campaign to tell lower-income families about a federal program that can cut their costs for broadband internet service.

The Affordable Connectivity Program, established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will provide eligible households a monthly discount of up to $30 on their internet bill and a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

The program grows partly out of the realization during the COVID-19 pandemic that many homes do not have access to the internet, either because of the expense or because there was no service to their houses.

That made it tough for children to connect to classes when they went online.

The state has asked town governments in places such as Dover, Georgetown, Milford, Seaford, and Wilmington to offer programs throughout the next month to educate residents about the federal program and help them access  it.

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Emily Hershman, director of communications for the governor’s office, said towns will plan their own program, but they are expected to use community events and locations, such as libraries and service centers. 

Nonprofit groups will help, she said, including My Sister’s Keeper, NerditNow, Boys and Girls Club of Delaware, First State Community Action Agency, La Esperanza and the Central Baptist Community Development Corp. 

Households that are eligible include those with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level  and those who qualify for help through the supplemental nutrition programs, free and reduced-price school lunches, Medicaid, SSI, federal housing benefits, Veterans pension or survivor benefits, or federal pell grants.

140,000 homes eligible for internet help

So far, 32,000 Delaware households have enrolled out of an estimated 140,000 additional households eligible.

Some households can get internet for free, though it was unclear which households qualify.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said the city was happy to help residents sign up so they could maximize their potential.

“High-speed internet is essential in today’s world for people to learn, compete and thrive,” Purzycki said.

Other towns participating in the push include including Arden, Bethel, Bowers Beach, Cheswold, Clayton, Delaware City, Kenton, Newark, Smyrna and Townsend.

The campaign to get people signed up is another step in the state’s march toward full broadband and internet coverage in Delaware.

Delaware also is in the middle of a statewide broadband initiative expanding services statewide in areas that previously have not had access to internet connections.

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