Access, Affordability, & Digital Literacy
Access, affordability and digital literacy are the three pillars of broadband, and each pillar can affect different communities in different ways. Access may be a problem in one community, while affordability or digital literacy may be the greatest need in another. Whatever the case may be in your community, being informed and gathering relevant data is critical to assessing local needs and providing local solutions.
The three pillars of broadband are discussed in more detail, below.
Hundreds of thousands of Louisianians lack access to broadband.
Nearly half of Louisianians do not have access to a low-cost internet plan.
Understanding Digital Literacy
As many as 462,000 Louisianians, ages 18-64, may lack needed digital literacy skills.
When we talk about access, we’re talking about infrastructure. Broadband infrastructure can take the form of fiber, cable, DSL, fixed wireless, satellite and even cellular wireless. The federal government defines broadband as transmission speeds of at least 25:3 Mbps. When accounting for 25:3 speed delivered through the most reliable forms of broadband: fiber, cable, DSL and fixed wireless, nearly 450,000 Louisianians do not have access to broadband speeds through these technologies. Broadband infrastructure, often referred to as access, is the first pillar of broadband, as well as the first area of focus when trying to close the digital divide by 2029. But, what does access look like in your community? Let’s find out.
Below, you’ll find two links. The first is a link to the FCC Broadband Coverage Map. While not perfect, this map will give you a good sense of what broadband access looks like in your community. First, click the link below. Using the drop down menu in the upper left corner, there are several options to choose from. You can take a look at broadband access at the state, congressional district, parish, and even city or town level by selecting “Census Place.” There’s even an option under “Location Summary” to enter a specific physical address. You’ll also have the ability to zoom in and out. And remember, the lighter the color, the less broadband access available.
The second link below is a link to the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund mapping tool. This map allows you to see which, if any, internet service providers were awarded federal funding through the recent RDOF program to bring broadband to your area. This is important, because although you may not have access to broadband today, as illustrated in the FCC map, an internet service provider may be getting ready to come to your area through this program. Here’s how to check it out. First, click the link below. On the left-hand side, click on “RDOF Auction 904 Winning Bids.” Next, close out the “Info” box by clicking on the “x.” Then, using the search glass icon, enter an address, town, city or parish. Like the FCC map, you’ll have the ability to zoom in and out. On this map, a color represents an area where an internet service provider has agreed to provide broadband service.
To understand broadband access in your community, try the FCC and RDOF maps below.
Having trouble understanding these maps? No problem. Contact our office and ask for help. We’re here to assist.
Affordability is the next pillar of broadband and another area of focus when trying to close the digital divide by 2029. We can make Louisiana the most “wired” state in the country and have fiber connected to every single home and business throughout the state, but if some of our residents can’t afford it, what’s the point?
Typically, a broadband internet service package will cost a consumer between $50 and $75 per month, not including cable or phone service. For some families, that level of cost can be burdensome.
The federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program is designed to ease the burden of the cost of broadband by offering a $30 discount on monthly broadband internet service bills for those individuals and families who qualify. Click the link below to see if you or your family qualify for this benefit. Even if you don’t qualify, you probably know someone who may. Spread the word about ACP to your friends and family, churches, nonprofits and local civic organizations. Let’s ensure our communities can afford broadband.
Understanding Digital Literacy
Digital literacy is the third and final pillar of broadband and the last area of focus when trying to close the digital divide by 2029. We can make Louisiana the most “wired” state in the country, with all of our residents able to afford it, but if some of our residents lack the digital literacy skills necessary to fully take advantage of broadband, or simply do not see the value in it, what’s the point?
It’s likely you’ve had a friend or family member ask you to help them pay a bill online, schedule a telehealth visit, or search for a job. To this day, some people still do not understand how to turn on a computer, log onto the internet, or perform a simple Google search. As is evident, digital literacy can mean a number of things depending on a person’s experience with computers and technology. But, at the most basic level, our office estimates that as many as 462,000 Louisianians, ages 18 – 64, may lack the digital literacy skills necessary to take full advantage of broadband. What could these numbers look like in your parish? Let’s find out.
Using a 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Education that utilized a 2012 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, our office has performed internal analysis for each parish in Louisiana. Weighting for certain variables, our office is able to present an upper-level estimation of the percentage of a parish’s population that may lack basic digital literacy skills. It’s important to note that these upper-level estimates are not scientific in nature, but should be used as general, directional information by local leaders when assessing the depth and breadth of the digital literacy issue on a local level.
Parish-level digital literacy estimates can be found in the above map.