Digital equity is an urgent issue. Schools increasingly provide their students with mobile devices to take and use at home. However, according to the 2017-18 Wisconsin Digital Learning Survey and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, about 20% of Wisconsin households do not have access to the internet.
While 1:1 computing can be beneficial for students, affordability is the main reason why many people do not have internet access at home.
The Internet Discount Finder, created by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), can help low-income households find discounted internet service. Discounts are as deep as 80%. Moreover, it’s easy to use: enter a full home address to see if there are any providers in the area and then learn about what different programming is offered and how to qualify. Some providers base qualification for internet discounts on participation in programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) or Section 8, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and other means-tested programs.
Schools and public libraries can play a critical role in promoting the Internet Discount Finder to ensure all of their students and library users get internet access at home. For many children and adults, the public library is the only source of internet access. The Internet Discount Finder is not just for households with students. It is designed to help all Wisconsin families and residents get internet access.
Provider programs cover as much as 85% of the state, according to the PSC. The Internet Discount Finder's ease of use, combined with the potential to reach an overwhelming majority of the state, puts educators and librarians in optimal positions to promote and explain it to families or residents who can benefit from the service.