Type to search

Featured Telecommunications/Technology

1M families to benefit from 2nd phase of internet outreach program

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently awarded an additional $740,000 through its Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program, which could benefit about 1 million families in Puerto Rico through subsidies for broadband access, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said.

The federal agency’s approval came after Puerto Rico became the fifth jurisdiction in the United States to successfully administer the funds available for the program, the governor said.

“The main mission is to facilitate the promotion and awareness so that more eligible people can benefit from the Affordable Connectivity Program, through which the FCC subsidizes families and individuals to pay for high-speed internet services so they can access their work, education, health services, among other services,” said Enrique Völckers-Nin, deputy secretary of the government’s innovation, information, data and technology efforts.

To get the allocation, Puerto Rico competed against states, cities, universities and nonprofit organizations, as well as stateside community institutions. The FCC confirmed that 350 applications for subsidies for the development of high-speed internet projects were evaluated in the process of selecting awardees.

The FCC allocated a total of $66 million for this project, including what was assigned to Puerto Rico. With the budget allocation, the federal agency seeks to recruit partners or collaborators to serve as reliable messengers among citizens to implement innovative strategies that allow them to access high-speed internet, government officials said.

Völckers-Nin urged Puerto Rico families that still do not have a subsidy to pay their internet bills to visit the official White House website and fill the eligibility form for the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Subsidy Program. The information is available in Spanish and English.

“Puerto Rico is the fifth jurisdiction in the United States with the highest use of the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program, but we haven’t yet reached even half of those who could benefit on the island. With this subsidy we can impact more than a million families that qualify for this aid,” Pierluisi said.

Puerto Rico residents urged to fill broadband survey
In related news, the government announced it has created the Smart Island program that seeks to develop and maximize initiatives in key areas to obtain high-speed internet in Puerto Rico. This follows the million-dollar allocation that the island received from the federal government to build the broadband infrastructure needed to close the digital gap.

“In this initial stage of the program, it’s important to define what the specific needs of each municipality are,” Völckers-Nin said.

“For this reason, it’s necessary to identify, through the people, those key points that will allow us to develop the required five-year strategic plan, which will guarantee that the funds assigned to Puerto Rico are used within the established terms and will ensure that the broadband infrastructure necessary to close the digital divide on the island is built promptly,” he said.

One of the methods to learn and identify the specific needs of the people is through the internet service survey, which will help, among other things, to determine if a person has an internet connection at home, their download speed, their proficiency in online activities such as using a computer or tablet, conducting government transactions online, knowing what information is safe to share online, and identifying what people in Puerto Rico mostly use the internet for.

“This survey will reveal information that will help us in planning and developing the necessary strategies to coordinate, authorize and execute the disbursement of local and federal funds assigned to Puerto Rico for the construction of broadband infrastructure on the island,” he said.

“It’s important that people complete this survey to help us in the development of the several initiatives that we will be developing through the [Puerto Rico Broadband Plan] that will reduce the digital divide on the island,” Völckers-Nin added.

Author Details
Author Details
This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *