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What’s New in Digital Equity: New Wisconsin Tool Finds Affordable Internet

Plus, new research shows that broadband subsidy programs are helping to deliver affordable Internet; New York City continues to expand its Big Apple Connect program; a look at the Broadband Infrastructure Playbook 3.0; and more.

The words "we want to work with you Wisconsin" above a silhouette of the state of Wisconsin with a farm inside its borders. The text is on a peach-colored background and the state is on a dark blue background.
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:


A new website has been created to help Wisconsin residents find and gain access to affordable Internet service. The Internet Discount Finder website, launched last week by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction with Gov. Tony Evers, will help simplify the process of finding discounted and free Internet service.

The new tool will quickly match consumers to low-cost home Internet service and discount programs for which they’re eligible. To access this information, users simply enter their address and identify their eligibility criteria. The tool will then display the plans that are available and explain the next steps for enrolling in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

Although the ACP does not have unlimited funding, stakeholders are advocating for its continuation. The ACP offers a way for eligible households to get a discount of $30-$75 per month.

The website also offers information about a variety of programs that can potentially make Internet service discounts available to Wisconsinites, including ACP, Lifeline, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program.
Screenshot of Wisconsin's Internet Discount Finder website, which can be found at The screenshot shows several prompts, including location and current enrollment status in the ACP and Lifeline programs.
Screenshot of Wisconsin's Internet Discount Finder website.
“This tool is just one more way we can help close the digital divide in our state and make sure high-speed Internet is accessible and affordable for our kids to learn, for families to get connected to resources like healthcare, and for employers and workers to keep our economy growing,” Evers said in the announcement.

For Wisconsin residents who are not able to access or navigate the website, there are several hotlines they can call for additional support, including the Wisconsin Internet and Phone Helpline and Wisconsin 2-1-1.

As underlined by Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly, the high cost of Internet service creates a barrier to digital inclusion for many Wisconsin families. This tool intends to help bridge the gap for Wisconsin children and adults alike.

The work to create this tool for Wisconsin residents was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. (Julia Edinger)


As state and local governments work to make the public aware of federal and other subsidy programs that help make Internet service more affordable through initiatives such as the Internet Discount Finder, research underlines the impact these programs have within communities.

According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, cost remains the primary barrier to broadband adoption for low-income households. This analysis suggests that a single national policy focused on increasing Internet access, paired with simple enrollment in discount programs and collaboration with community partners, will help expand digital inclusion.

Researchers have found that successful discount programs include enrollment campaigns, community-first partnerships, and participation from Internet Service Providers — a group of stakeholders that plays a significant role in digital equity efforts. (Julia Edinger)


New York City is expanding its Big Apple Connect program to 17 new public housing developments, the city has announced.

Officials estimate this expansion will help the program deliver free in-home Internet to more than 330,000 people living within 150,000 households throughout New York City public housing. This represents a third phase for the ongoing Big Apple Connect program, which prioritizes New York City Housing Authority developments that have limited or no subsidized broadband options. All told, the program now reaches 220 public housing facilities in New York City.

Within the new expansion, nine developments are located in Manhattan while seven are in Brooklyn and one is in the Bronx.

A full list of the new developments — as well as more information about the program generally — can be found via New York City’s website. (Zack Quaintance)


Today, Nokia announced a partnership with Sanmina Corporation to manufacture fiber-optic broadband network electronics products and optical modules in the U.S. for use in the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program.

The announcement is expected to make Nokia the first telecom company to begin manufacturing broadband electronics products in the U.S. in 2024. It builds on the Biden-Harris administration’s work in this space, including investments in high-speed Internet and Made-in-America policies.

“President Biden and I are delivering on our promise to strengthen our economy by investing in working people, expanding domestic manufacturing, empowering small business owners, and rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure — today’s announcement is a direct result of this work,” said Vice President Kamala Harris in the announcement.

The BEAD program offers major funding opportunities for states, and state officials are carefully planning to ensure the funding deployment is done equitably. (Julia Edinger)


NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and the Fiber Broadband Association have launched the first module from their new Broadband Infrastructure Playbook 3.0, the groups said in a press release.

That first module looks at permitting as it applies to broadband infrastructure. Subsequent modules, the groups noted, will explore cybersecurity, supply chain risk management and broadband coverage challenge processes. The intent is to help states with these modules as they develop their plans for distributing money coming from the federal government to support broadband.

As such, this first module provides suggestions on how to streamline broadband deployment permitting in order to help BEAD Program funding meet its goal of getting all Americans connected to high-speed Internet as soon as possible.

There are plans to share this module and those to come with states directly, but interested parties can also find it here. (Zack Quaintance)


Comcast has given $50,000 to The Literary Alliance of Fort Wayne, Ind., to be used to advance economic opportunity through digital literacy and broadband adoption, the company announced.

In addition to the money, the telecommunications company also donated 250 laptops to the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, Fort Wayne Urban League and other groups. All of these donations are part of Project UP, which is Comcast’s ongoing $1 billion commitment to advancing digital equity.

More information on the Fort Wayne donation can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)
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.