CTLN Opinion+: Doug Casey

Executive Director of CT Commission for Educational Technology on digital divide and resources available to free or low-cost Internet

Connectivity deficits fall hardest on low-income residents, older adults, and communities of color. According to data, a 2020 analysis report from the US Census Bureau, and John Horrigan, Ph.D. (The Digital Divide in Connecticut 2020), 23% of all Connecticut households lack high-speed Internet at home. Furthermore, 36% of low-income Connecticut households who are below the state’s median income do not have high-speed broadband compared with 11% of all other households, and 35% of Hispanics-Latinos lack wireline broadband at home compared with 21% of whites.

This week we spoke to Doug Casey, Executive Director of the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology. The General Assembly empowers the Commission for Educational Technology to envision, coordinate, and oversee technology management and successful integration in Connecticut’s schools, libraries, colleges, and universities.

As part of its responsibilities as the state’s principal educational technology adviser, it designs and stewards the State Educational Technology Goals and Plan that helps ensure equity of access to technology-based learning solutions. Casey explains the primary concern of the digital divide and the different federal and state resources available to help families attain free or low-cost Internet to help close that digital exclusion. 

“One of the main issues that we’ve been working on for years is this digital divide. This problem of some of our citizens and our students not having access to computers and the Internet and the support to use them effectively. So along comes Covid in March of 2020, and all of our students were sent home, including many universities closing down. I was leading the charge on getting our cable internet partners within the states to connect students but we need to make sure that all students, whatever their age, are connected to the Internet.”

Numbers show that in lower-income Connecticut households with children under age 18, 29% do not have wireline broadband at home. We talked about their newest benefit program called The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). This program will help students with internet connections in place for the 21-22 school year. This new program provides money to help eligible households with broadband Internet service. “It provides essentially a credit for free internet up to $50 a month, so with that allocation, you can get a pretty good connection at home and get online.” Case explained that “this is a program that can connect an entire household.” To sign up please go to www.GetEmergencyBroadband.org.

To learn more about the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology, its affordable internet resources, and how you can qualify to stay connected with internet service, check out this week’s episode.

Resources mentioned in the video: 

Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology: www.CT.gov/EdTech

 Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB): www.GetEmergencyBroadband.org (general information) Connecticut State Broadband Page (Spanish): www.CT.gov/Conectate

EBB Signup Page (Spanish): www.checklifeline.org/lifeline/?ebbp=true&id=nv_flow&ln=U3BhbmlzaA%3D%3D

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