Lifeline Awareness Week, $386 Million Kentucky Investment, Fiber Workforce Development

Lifeline Awareness Week has been broadened to include National Digital Connectivity

Lifeline Awareness Week, $386 Million Kentucky Investment, Fiber Workforce Development
Photo of Nebraska Public Service Commisioner Tim Schram from his Facebook page

September 12, 2023 – Federal regulators are this week observing this year’s National Digital Connectivity and Lifeline Awareness Week.

The Federal Communications Commission, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, and state public utility commissions across the U.S. are observing the tradition that starts annually on the week after Labor Day highlighting the benefits of the Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity programs.

It will run until Friday.

The Lifeline program caters to low-income consumers and provides opportunities to connect with broadband networks, employment opportunities, and healthcare access among others.

At a policy summit this past July, the NARUC Board of Directors passed two resolutions in support to find a permanent source of funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program and the inclusion of broadband services during Lifeline week.

Nebraska Commissioner and NARUC Telecommunications Chairman Tim Schram stated that “digital connectivity is vital to an advancing society.” He added that by having Digital Connectivity and Lifeline Awareness Week it “reminds both participants and service providers about eligibility and recertification requirements in both the Lifeline and ACP programs.”

The Affordable Connectivity Program offers qualifying households benefits that include a monthly discount up to $30 for broadband services and up to $75 for households located on tribal lands and in high-cost areas.

The Lifeline program assists eligible low-income consumers meet specific income criteria or participate in specified public assistance programs. Participants may receive discounts up to $9.25 a month for qualifying broadband services, up to $5.25 a month for qualifying voice services, and up to $34.25 a month for residents on tribal Lands. Low-income subscribers living on tribal Lands are also eligible for an additional $25 discount.

Kentucky invests $386 million for high-speed internet expansion

Local counties in Kentucky will receive a $386 million toward high-speed internet expansion.

Governor Andy Beshear issued more than $196 million from the Kentucky Deployment Fund in grants. Of the recipients, internet service providers who benefitted from the grant funding will match those funds, totaling more than $190 million.

The counties receiving funding are Boyd, Carter, Greenup, Lewis, and Pike.

The service providers participating are Cellular Services, LLC, Inter Mountain Cable, Inc., Foothills Connect, Spectrum, and Spectrum Mid-America, LLC.

Over 25,000 locations have been deemed to have no service, with over 17,000 being deemed underserved. The funds will allow service providers to install fiber in Boyd, Greenup, Carter and Lewis counties.

“High-speed internet is not a luxury anymore,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “It’s a necessity for work, school, health care and more, and every Kentuckian deserves access.”

Fiber Broadband Association teams up with workforce development

The FBA has announced that vice president Deborah Kish will be joining the N.C. Broadband Workforce Plan Advisory Committee to provide assistance with workforce development.

Kish’s involvement with the FBA is to ensure that the fiber broadband industry has a plethora of skilled technicians to “safely and efficiently” construct networks for high quality broadband.

Lots of states are currently working to advance five-year plans and proposals for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program fund.

North Carolina is going to receive $1.5 billion in BEAD allocations, which is one of the largest amounts given to a state through the program.

Over the next five years, North Carolina will be investing the resources to further expand their broadband access.

State leaders acknowledge that, to attain this, they must have a skilled workforce that is able to deploy and maintain broadband technologies and networks.

The committee will be developing a state broadband workforce plan. Members will be collaborating on “broadband labor market analyses, education and landscape scans, and implementation strategies.

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