Giving Low-Income North Dakotans a Hand with Internet Costs
Friday, July 21, 2023
North Dakota will soon boost its infrastructure for high-speed internet, thanks to the latest federal subsidy. In the meantime, low-income households can apply for aid to keep their internet costs lower.
The $130 million federal grant, meant to boost access in underserved areas, is from the bipartisan infrastructure law.
Separately, community action offices in North Dakota are now taking part in the Affordable Connectivity Program under the Federal Communications Commission.
Case managers help people find out if they're eligible for a discount on their internet bill.
Kristina Brownell, executive director of the Community Action Partnership for the Jamestown region, said it's a big help for those who want to connect to the digital world.
"Whether that be applying for a program - we're seeing, you know, a lot of schools even going into the virtual learning situation," said Brownell. "So, I think it becomes more and more important every day you have the ability to make those connections."
She said a lot of clients also lack transportation, and having high-speed internet could make it easier to take online college classes or telecommute.
Recipients can get a discount of up to $30 a month toward internet service, and up to $75 a month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.
Haley Klapak is a case manager for the Southeastern North Dakota Community Action office. She recently helped a father and daughter, who said they often had to leave their house to use the internet, apply for ACP aid.
"We put in his address and the ACP and Lifeline program sent him a cellphone that was connected to the internet with an internet plan," said Klapak, "so that he was able to reach out to me and connect to services, set up appointments for him and his daughter, and just get back to regular life."
Beyond reducing monthly internet bills, eligible households can receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers if they contribute certain amounts toward the purchase price.
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