RESOURCES FOR EQUITABLE CONNECTIVITY
Home Access Survey
NCDPI has developed a Home Access Survey intended for public school units to evaluate needs among their communities if they have not already. Sending this survey out to parents will help PSUs determine their readiness for a successful distance learning program. The button below will create copy of the Home Access Survey Google Form. A fillable paper version can be generated by printing the form.
NCDIT COVID-19 Internet Service Offerings Map
The North Carolina Department of Information Technology has developed an interactive map and up-to-date list of free or low-cost Internet service options during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned to this site as additional vendors are added!
Keep Americans Connected Pledge
The Federal Communications Commission has launched the Keep Americans Connected Pledge! This agreement between the FCC and participating broadband and telephone service providers aims to keep Americans connected during these unprecedented times. This pledge calls on service providers to agree to the following for at least 60 days: suspending termination of services due to nonpayment, waiving late fees, and opening their public Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them. Participating service providers include AT&T, Charter Spectrum, Comcast, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Sprint, T-Mobile, TracFone Wireless, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream.
Internet Service Provider Partnerships for Temporary Access
Charter Communications has announced that they will extend 60 days of free Spectrum Internet access at 100mb/s to all new customers in households with K-12 or higher education students starting on Monday, March 16th, 2020. Additionally, as part of the FCC's Keep Americans Connected Pledge, they will temporarily open their nationwide public Wi-Fi hotspots to provide free Internet access. To sign up for free Internet access, Spectrum has set up a hotline at 1-844-488-8395.Note: As of March 26th, 2020, reports indicate that Charter Spectrum is no longer dispatching technicians. They will ship equipment to households that currently have functioning cable lines but will not dispatch technicians to repair inactive lines.
Kajeet offers both hotspots and 4G LTE enabled Chromebooks to public school units as well as associated data plans. Kajeet also offers bus hotspot devices to enable connectivity on school buses. Internet access through Kajeet includes integrated content filtering at no additional cost with access to a cloud control portal for PSU administrators. Kajeet has shared their Winter Savings Discount: up to $150 off any Kajeet mobile device with data plans starting at $14.97 per month.
Mobile Citizen offers hotspots and data packages to public school units. They are currently discounting priority shipping costs to help get hotspot devices to PSUs as quickly as possible. Please note that Mobile Citizen devices are manufactured in China, so it is recommended that PSUs place their orders as soon as possible in case of shipping delays due to COVID19.
Current pricing is $65 for a Cool Pad Surf hotspot device, which can connect up to ten devices to a 4G LTE network. A one year unlimited data plan is currently $120. Mobile Citizen also offers their Technical Assistance Grant program for PSUs in need.
Mobile Beacon also offers hotspots and data packages to public school units. Similar to Mobile Citizen, they offer the Cool Pad Surf hotspot device for $65, which can connect up to ten devices to a 4G LTE network. They also offer a Netstick 4G LTE USB modem for one device for $120. Unlimited data plans start at $10 per month, or $120 for one year.
Some local public libraries offer mobile hotspot checkout options! It's worth inquiring with them about the options that are available in communities across North Carolina.
Internet Service Provider Partnerships for Ongoing Access
Charter Spectrum Internet Assist
Charter Spectrum offers free wired internet service at speeds up to 30mb/s to qualifying households within their cable service areas. In-home wi-fi can be added for $5 per month. Households with at least one member participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible for this service.Note: As of March 26th, 2020, reports indicate that Charter Spectrum is no longer dispatching technicians. They will ship equipment to households that currently have functioning cable lines but will not dispatch technicians to repair inactive lines.
AT&T offers discounted wired internet service at speeds starting at 768kb/s and up to 10mb/s to qualifying households within their wireline service areas. In-home wi-fi is included with this program as well as access to public AT&T wi-fi hotspots across the nation. Households with at least one member participating in the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are eligible for this service in North Carolina.
Comcast Internet Essentials
Comcast is taking immediate steps to help connect more low-income families to the Internet at home. Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, anyone who signs up for Internet Essentials will receive two free months of Internet service. Comcast is also increasing the speed of the program to 25 Mbps downloads, and 3 Mbps uploads for all new and existing customers.
Kinetic by Windstream
Windstream participates in the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program to provide monthly billing discounts to households that qualify for Lifeline. See the FCC Lifeline Program section below for details.
FCC Lifeline Program
The FCC Lifeline program provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on wired or wireless Internet service for qualifying households. Households qualify if their monthly income is 135% or less than the federal poverty guidelines or if at least one member of the household participates in a Federal assistance program such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension and Survivor benefits, or Tribal Programs.
Mediacom participates with "EveryoneOn," a national non-profit program. Their goal is to make home internet access simple and affordable so that students have a reliable connection to participate in a digital curriculum and extend the learning experience from school to home. Mediacom makes this service available to eligible families in all areas where Mediacom's broadband network is present. The Mediacom connect2COMPETE program offers download speeds up to 25 Mbps for $9.95 per month plus taxes. To learn more, call 1-855-904-2225 or visit mediacomc2c.com.
Public school units who have already implemented hotspots on schools buses may consider strategically parking buses in high-needs areas or public parking lots to establish public wi-fi zones for their students.
Parking Lot Wi-Fi Zones
Public school units may consider evaluating the existing wi-fi coverage in their parking lots, allowing parents to park and so their students can download course materials or participate in synchronous online instruction from the safety of their vehicles.