AT&T Pledges $2 Billion to Help Bridge the ‘Digital Divide’

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AT&T is looking to bridge the digital divide in underserved areas by investing $2 billion into low-cost internet services over a three-year period. The largest telecommunications company in the world is looking to expand its footprint by bringing robust low-cost broadband connectivity to more Americans by participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), and investing in communities.

Over the past three years, AT&T has invested $1 billion into helping the nation’s most underserved communities gain access to low-cost broadband, as the company doubles that commitment over the next three years, they will focus on providing affordable and educational resources, with economic opportunities to millions of America’s who do not have that today.

“We believe that broadband connectivity is essential for all Americans,” said John Stankey, CEO, AT&T. “Our broadband networks rose to the challenge of the pandemic in part due to policies that promoted private sector investment in multiple technologies and networks. AT&T is investing in and expanding the reach of our broadband networks while also advocating for effective and sustainable public policies that help close this country’s digital divide.”

AT&T plans on achieving its goals of offering affordable broadband by expanding its low-cost offers, and by using the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. Some cord cutters can take advantage of AT&T’s education offers that include wireless solutions discounts to over 135,000 public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. AT&T also has a self-funded program called Access From AT&T that provides qualifying households with wireline internet service at $10 or less per month. The voluntary program was established 5 years ago and gives customers the flexibility of not having a contract, no installation fee, and it includes in-home Wi-Fi at no additional cost. The company is planning on expanding by partnering with government policymakers to ensure the program will stay affordable and complete its commitment by providing broadband access to those who are underserved.

Customers that qualify for the FCC’s EBB program can temporarily reduce their monthly broadband costs to as low as $0 per month. The EBB program has helped more than 30 million households receive a subsidy of up to $50 per month, and those on Tribal lands are eligible for up to $75 per month. Customers can apply their EBB subsidy to any eligible home internet services including Access from AT&T or AT&T Internet. Plus, for those on the go, the subsidy can be applied toward eligible postpaid or prepaid wireless plans at AT&T, AT&T Prepaid, and Cricket Wireless, which are available nationwide.

On top of providing more broadband opportunities, AT&T has committed to helping communities with educational learning in a post-pandemic future with AT&T Connected Learning. With Connected Learning, the company will have a multi-year commitment to helping students learn by creating compelling content that will narrow the homework gap and learning loss. Since AT&T owns WarnerMedia, the company wIll use its digital platform to develop high-quality educational content to allow students to learn at home. Plus, later this year, there are plans to launch 20 AT&T Connected Learning Centers in underserved areas throughout the country. These centers will have high-speed AT&T Fiber internet, wi-fi, tablets, laptops, PCs, mobile devices, mentors, tutors, and more necessities to help conquer the digital divide.

Will Townsend, senior analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, added: “The digital divide in America is real and the challenges are being magnified during the pandemic. Many have to scramble to find Wi-Fi hotspots to support critical activities such as telemedicine sessions and distance learning. I applaud AT&T’s efforts to bridge the connectivity gap with incremental investments and subscriber subsidies, as well as no-cost educational content through its WarnerMedia division.”

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