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9 More States, D.C. Join Verizon Digital Inclusion Program

The new agreement, led by Massachusetts, will allow eight neighboring states and Washington, D.C., to offer Internet access, devices and other technology to constituents through local agencies at a discounted rate.

The Verizon logo on the side of a building.
About six weeks after the Georgia Department of Education finalized a multi-state agreement with Verizon to get discounted Internet and devices to families in need, a coalition of nine other states led by Massachusetts has joined the program.

According to a news release Thursday, under the new sponsor-state agreement, public agencies and nonprofits in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and eight other eastern states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont — can now use federal funds to purchase devices, service plans and hot spots for their constituents at a steep discount.

This brings the number of state governments on Georgia’s agreement with Verizon to 22, not counting Washington, D.C. Others included in Georgia’s initial agreement in August were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Verizon’s discount program builds upon the company’s digital inclusion efforts for K-12 students last year, this time extending discounted rates to family members and allowing other state agencies, such as housing authorities and employment agencies, to purchase and administer the plans and devices.

Explaining a drastic need for broadband affordability, Verizon’s news release points to data from the New American Economy Research Fund, a bipartisan research organization, that shows 43.7 percent of low-income U.S. households in 2018 lacked personal high-speed Internet. That was more than double the proportion for the rest of the population.

“During the pandemic, we worked with state and local governments to provide connectivity for students shifting to online education as quickly as possible,” said Jennifer Chronis, Verizon’s senior vice president of public sector, in a statement. “A significant digital divide persists, and our mission is to help narrow the connectivity gap by providing the easiest way for states and nonprofits to get families online.”