The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how important it is to have access to a high-speed internet connection at home – for school or remote work, meetings and many other reasons – but Internet access can be difficult for many families.
According to data collected by the state, approximately 400,000 Orange County households are eligible for free or discounted high-speed Internet service through a federally funded initiative called the Affordable Connectivity Program. However, only 24% of eligible households have registered.
As students begin the new school year, districts and county offices of education are working together to spread the word about the federal Get Connected! Initiative that provides a monthly home internet rebate of up to $30 to eligible families from pre-K through mature students. For households on eligible tribal lands, families can receive a discount of up to $75 per month. Plus, there’s a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet.
“This program provides Internet access to families at a reduced and affordable cost,” said Carl Fong, Chief Technology Officer of the OECD. “Internet access is essential for our students to continue their learning experience at home and the Orange County Department of Education is committed to bridging the digital divide here in Orange County. .”
Discounts for internet access are set to begin August 27 for eligible families. Households enrolled in programs such as Lifeline, CalFresh, Medi-Cal, Federal Pell Grant and school meals are eligible for the initiative.
Additional information is available on the Affordable Connectivity Program website.