Millions of households still do not have access to broadband internet

Technology touches everyone, everywhere. Every household must have broadband access. It’s not a luxury anymore. However, large sections of the population lack access to such Internet use services and other important forms of digital technology. As a parent and educator, I have pondered this dilemma for years. The depth of this issue became even clearer when I attended workshops, including the recent Readying Idaho’s Rural Communities to Capture the Benefits of Digitalization, conducted by the University of Idaho Extension in collaboration with the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL). became.

This digital divide has a negative impact on education, people-to-people connections and job opportunities. Five million rural American homes and 15.3 million urban or metropolitan areas still do not have broadband Internet access. A study by the Pew Research Center found that 24% of adults with a household income of less than $30,000 a year do not own a smartphone, and 40% of those with lower incomes do not have broadband service at home or a computer. About half of low-income families struggle to pay their internet and cellphone bills.

In today’s economy, many jobs require digital skills. Those without access to the internet or digital devices are at a disadvantage when looking for a job. You may not be able to apply for jobs online, complete job training programs, or use the Internet to network with potential employers. Millions of unemployed workers struggle to navigate government unemployment websites.

The internet has made it easier than ever for people to connect with each other. However, people who do not have access to the Internet miss this opportunity. You may not be able to keep in touch with friends and family, access important information, or participate in online communities. It can be difficult for a person with a disability to go to the doctor. But internet access could help with telemedicine.

Nearly 15 percent of students face obstacles in distance learning because they don’t have access to high-speed internet at home. The Internet is a valuable tool for learning. Students who have access to the Internet can use it to research topics, complete assignments, and connect with other learners. However, students who do not have Internet access may not be able to keep up with their schoolwork, participate in online learning programs, or access the same resources as their peers.

There are a variety of initiatives that can help Idahoans bridge the digital divide and access the information and resources they need in their daily lives.

The Federal Affordable Connectivity Program is a rebate on monthly Internet bills for eligible low-income households.

* Up to $30 per month for broadband service purchased by eligible households.
* Up to $75 per month for broadband service purchased by eligible households in tribal areas.
* One-time discount of up to $100 when purchasing a laptop, desktop or tablet from participating retailers (if the buyer contributes more than $10 and less than $50 to the purchase price).

For more information, including how to apply, visit

ICfL offers a website,, that supports Idahoans who want to expand their digital skills through free online classes. Among the many courses available are: Creating a Resume, Searching for a Job Online, Microsoft Word and Excel Training, Using, Learning Cloud Storage, Video Conferencing Basics, Online Safety, Introducing Skype and Facebook etc. the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The website includes a variety of courses available in both English and Spanish, including the ACP course.

The Digital Access for All Idahoans (DAAI) Plan is a comprehensive five-year plan that will serve as the benchmark and roadmap for achieving digital equity in Idaho. For more information, see To keep up to date with the DAAI plan, access the newsletter linked at the bottom of the webpage.

For more information on digital inclusion, including its five key elements, see the Idaho Digital Access Workbook at There are also tools and data specific to Idaho.

Terms such as the digital divide and the homework gap are often used to describe the inequality that separates those with internet access from those without internet access; However, these terms do not always capture the complexity of our digital age. Here are some resources to help bridge the digital divide. Idahoans can also visit their public library for access to technology and hands-on help with everything from conducting research or an interview to connecting with distant family members online.

The digital divide is a complex problem with no simple solutions. However, there are a number of measures that can be taken to deal with the problem. Governments can invest in infrastructure to make internet access more affordable and available. Schools can provide students with access to computers and the Internet. And companies can offer training programs to help employees develop digital skills.

By working together, we can close the digital divide and help ensure everyone has a chance to thrive in the digital age.