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What’s New in Digital Equity: HUD Releases High-Speed Internet Guide

Plus, a continued look at what some state and local governments are doing to increase participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program, and more.

The headquarters building for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
(Bob Korn/Shutterstock)
This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:


This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a guidebook for states and organizations to help them navigate the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and the Digital Equity Act programs. The guidebook aims to help Public Housing Agencies and HUD stakeholders better understand their role in getting their neighborhoods connected.

The guidebook offers an overview of these two programs, stating that they are the most relevant to HUD-assisted communities. In addition, the guidebook breaks down topics like eligibility, application process and more.

“Online participation is a necessary resource to thrive in today’s society,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge in the announcement. “We are so grateful to the NTIA for their support in developing this useful resource and we look forward to the continued partnership between our agencies.”

In addition, the guidebook includes a section titled, “Looking Ahead to 2024,” in which it outlines the forthcoming State Digital Equity Capacity Grant and the Digital Equity Competitive Grant. Each grant program will make over $1 billion in funding available to help digital equity efforts. The first is available to states, territories and tribal entities, while the second is available to private, public and nonprofit entities.

HUD has been working to expand Internet access to those in HUD-assisted housing for years through ConnectHome, and more recently with the Affordable Connectivity Program. (Julia Edinger)


Earlier this month, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the fifth Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner seat, Gigi Sohn, withdrew from the confirmation process after more a year of delay. In response, a coalition of over 60 groups with vested interest in the matter have sent a letter urging Biden to select a nominee with several key characteristics. They are pushing for a candidate who has a history of advocating for the public interest, is free from industry conflicts of interest, is committed to championing rights of low-income families and communities of color and is supportive of Title II oversight.

The letter details that the 2-2 deadlock the FCC has been in for over two years has stalled progress on digital equity matters. Further, the coalitions called on Biden to press the Democratic majority in the Senate to “swiftly” confirm the nominee to allow the FCC to move forward with crucial work.

The coalition includes organizations like the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the American Library Association, The Greenlining Institute and the Center for Accessible Technology, in addition to public-sector entities like the city of Boston, Mass., and Portland, Ore. (Julia Edinger)


More cities are stepping up their efforts to get eligible people to sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal effort to make high-speed Internet more affordable.

This week, Philadelphia announced a new campaign to get people there signed up for the ACP, doing so through both a website as well as a phone number that people can call. Interested parties can go to or dial 211 to find out if they qualify for the ACP. There is also information available through those channels about the steps to apply. The website has translations available in Spanish and Chinese, while the phone number is a 24/7 hotline with information in 150 languages. The city’s network of Digital Navigators is also being tapped to support eligibility assessments and sign-ups.

Philadelphia is certainly not alone in supporting ACP sign-ups. The work is being promoted by local governments the nation over. In fact, just this week another major American city — New Orleans — also announced a new outreach campaign.

In that city, the local government has gotten a $370,000 ACP outreach grant for it, funded by the FCC. There are many other such outreach efforts that are ongoing, and there are also surely more that will soon be announced. For the uninitiated, the ACP is a $14.2 billion FCC benefit program that helps make high-speed Internet available for discounted rates. There is also a one-time stipend for folks in need to get a device they can use to access the Internet. (Zack Quaintance)


Continued ACP outreach is also a major focus of state government, with two states this week alone announcing new initiatives and funding centered around the work.

First, in Delaware Gov. John Carney announced a statewide awareness campaign, on which the state is partnering with a number of municipalities there to help get the word out. City leaders taking part include those in Dover, Georgetown, Milford, Seaford and Wilmington. Other cites in the state have also pledged to help spread awareness.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina the state announced that it has been awarded a $500,000 FCC grant for ACP outreach. North Carolina — frequently a national leader on broadband and digital equity — has more than 690,000 households already in the program. The grant will go to the N.C. Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) Division of Broadband and Digital Equity. (Zack Quaintance)


And in even more ACP news, the White House announced it has released $73 million in additional ACP outreach grants, some of which we have mentioned above.

The money will be split into two tracts. The first is $66 million and it will go to the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Program — exactly what it sounds like — while the second is for $7 million and will go to a pair of ACP pilot programs. Those programs, according to the federal government’s announcement, will “test a variety of methods to reach out to the federal housing communities, and work with trusted third parties to assist consumers in applying for the Affordable Connectivity Program.”

The announcement also noted that 16.75 million households are currently enrolled in the ACP, and that that number is expected to increase with all the new investments in outreach. (Zack Quaintance)


New York City has announced the launch of the Brooklyn Gigabit Center, which is part of the city’s broader effort to bridge the digital divide. The city’s recent work in this space has included the launch of Big Apple Connect and a strategic plan that highlights goals to improve digital literacy among constituents.

The launch of the Brooklyn Gigabit Center follows the launch of similar centers last year in the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. This center is located in Crown Heights, offering students in the area free high-speed Internet, access to Internet-enabled devices and a 3D printer, and technology education workshops to improve knowledge of things like coding and app design. The center also offers digital literacy programming for older adults.

The center was created through a partnership between the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI), LinkNYC, and tech education nonprofit Digital Girl. This spring, the city expects to launch the Staten Island Gigabit Center. (Julia Edinger)
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.
Associate editor for <i>Government Technology</i> magazine.