Digital Equity Programming
Broadband service is crucial; labor productivity improves or suffers on a national scale according to availability, and individuals’ prospects for employment and earnings directly relate to broadband access. The way communities are connected this decade will ultimately determine which ones have access to future opportunities, both economic and social. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that sustainable internet access is a necessity.
“The digital divide is a complex challenge that requires a complex solution.”
– Maggy Wilkinson, CEO
We have worked with internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to implement innovative programs to bring internet access, devices, and digital skills training to those that need it most.
In LAC, governing and financial bodies clearly recognize the impact that increased connectivity can have on their economies. Digital equity efforts, however, remain largely nascent in these markets. Our work in the digital equity space always centers on public-private partnerships. Private and public players harness the ability to bridge the digital divide most effectively by working in tandem to maximize the impact of their collective resources and expertise.
When done right, public-private partnerships provide universal benefits. From a consumer perspective, affordable, reliable internet becomes ever more attainable. From a government perspective, millions of dollars and precious resources are saved by leveraging existing network footprints. From an ISP perspective, a rare opportunity is offered to provide a public good while also increasing subscriber numbers.
Bridging the Digital Divide Abroad
For our LAC ISP client, we provided a research and planning framework that defined the strategic context, outlined operational considerations, and defined measurable outcomes to build market-wide digital inclusion programs. From that framework, we developed a central plan to then be tailored and rolled out to individual markets. Through strategic guidance about products, customer experience, and marketing alignment as well as project management and execution support, we continue to partner with brands in LAC as they seek to bridge the digital divide.
More than Accessibility and Affordability
Digital equity programming has become commonplace for U.S. ISPs and government entities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These groups implemented unprecedented interventions to get and keep people connected. Still, these programs have focused mostly on broadband accessibility and affordability and less on adoption. In fact, while affordability concerns have been decreasing and accessibility continues to improve, more and more people cite a lack of perceived need or interest as their main reason for forgoing traditional broadband subscriptions, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. This trend demonstrates the need for resources dedicated to the complex issues of adoption, including a lack of perceived need or interest, limited program awareness, a lack of trust in services, and structural limitations.
“Public-private partnerships transcend ideologies, uniting stakeholders around the common purpose of increasing broadband access nationwide.”
– Jose Alvarez, Senior Director, Program Management
Bridging the Digital Divide at Home
Since 2018, we have provided event marketing and promotion support to a U.S. ISP’s affordable internet program. While our initial engagement centered around a series of signature events, our scope of work has expanded to include delivering strategy and project management support for partner initiatives with schools, school districts, community centers, and more.
Leveraging the online world requires digital skills and knowledge to properly navigate subscription requirements and effectively utilize digital products. From developing toolkits and playbooks that help schools and community organizations become champions for our client’s affordable internet program, to organizing and delivering metrics on the progress of partnerships, we have been instrumental in driving adoption rates for our client and the communities they serve.
The way we map broadband this decade will ultimately determine which communities are fully included in our social future and whether all individuals have access to opportunities that should be equitably available. We are proud to support mutually beneficial relationships between our clients, government entities, communities, and consumers aimed at closing the digital divide.