Reliable and affordable broadband internet is a necessity.
Over the past decade, as society has accelerated its reliance on the internet to conduct business and access health care, services, education and important news, it has become evident that those without or with limited access to the internet have become more and more disenfranchised from career, economic, healthcare, education, and social opportunities. Reliable and affordable broadband internet access can serve as an engine of economic mobility, educational opportunity, civic engagement, generational wealth building, and better healthcare. Conversely, individuals and communities who lack access to broadband and the means to use it are increasingly being left behind. In 21st century L.A., no one should be left offline.
Telecommunications services and resources are now more important than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and intensified the digital divide that exists between those who have access to broadband and technology, and those who do not. As many Angelenos have transitioned to working from home and distance learning, the need for affordable and reliable telecommunications services and resources is now more important than ever. For a large and diverse region like Los Angeles County that represents urban, suburban and rural areas encompassed within a vast region of 4,700 square miles, ensuring reliable and equitable access to broadband has been challenging for providers and municipalities alike.
An internet connection is an essential access tool.
An internet connection is an essential tool for daily life, whether for accessing services such as applying for jobs or unemployment insurance, working or studying from home, or even attending local government hearings that are now held virtually. Additionally, agencies often distribute important information regarding emergencies or other vital health information via the internet with tools such as emails or website updates. A survey conducted by PEW found 70 percent of Americans report searching online for information about COVID-19. The availability of broadband access and devices to access it can be a matter of life and death for L.A. County residents.
And in a world that is increasingly connected via online platforms and social media, being connected also combats isolation.
Advanced communication services will promote economic growth.
Greater deployment of high-quality advanced communication services to all Angelenos will promote economic growth, job and new business creation, educational attainment, and substantial social benefits.
The California Broadband Infrastructure Report Card, which was submitted by internet service providers (ISP) to the California Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Communications Commission in 2018, gave Los Angeles County a grade of “C” when comparing the primary wireline infrastructure in a region to the California average.
According to a 2020 study by the USC Annenberg School of Communications, nearly 1.5 million K-12 students in Los Angeles County left in-person classrooms and attended classes virtually. The study also found about 1 in 4 families with school-age children in Los Angeles County do not have the resources necessary for distance learning and these students are likely to fall behind in education during the pandemic. Many of the families without resources reside in underserved communities, many of whom may already be struggling to make ends meet.
Though many Californians were able to seamlessly transition to remote working and learning, we were collectively shocked and haunted by news reports of elementary school students camped out in front of fast-food restaurants in order to access wireless internet to participate in classes just last year. While these issues of inequality were exacerbated by the pandemic, the digital divide between the affluent and underserved communities has been brewing throughout our regions long before the pandemic.
According to the 2020 American Community Survey 5 year estimates data, 343,655 households in Los Angeles County do not have internet access.
According to the USC CETF 2021 survey, released in March 2021, more than 1 in 4 low-income households are unconnected or under-connected, in contrast to near-universal adoption among higher-income households. In fact, 30% of households earning less than $20,000 a year have no internet connection. The survey noted that throughout the past year, as people cut back to save money, many disconnected internet services: 1 in 5 low-income households in the survey who currently have access reported going without internet for extensive periods. Respondents also cited cost as the main reason for disconnecting their service.
Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) was founded in 1981 as a nonprofit, public-benefit organization to harness the power of private sector in collaboration with L.A. County, to guide economic development and create more widely shared prosperity. LAEDC collaborates with all stakeholders in the region including education, business, and government.
UNITE-LA’s mission is to ensure the continuous improvement of effective and aligned cradle-to-career public education and workforce development systems in Los Angeles, resulting in all children and youth having access to a high-quality education. We serve to prepare the region’s children and youth for high-skill, high-wage employment in a fulfilling career of choice, with a priority focus on underserved populations.