By Cat Blake, Civic Technology Analyst
The criticality of broadband has never been more apparent than during the crises of the past year. At CTC, we’ve had many opportunities to see the urgency that states and localities around the country feel about improving connectivity—and we’ve been proud to be part of responding to that urgency.
In Delaware, which has been a leader in developing broadband collaborations for two decades, the state acted quickly to create Connect Delaware, a trailblazing program to deliver free broadband services to low-income students. The initiative built on Delaware’s long history of prioritizing broadband connectivity, including through inter-agency and public-private collaboration.
As Governor John Carney shared during his State of the State address on January 26, “During the pandemic, this work became more important than ever. The Department of Education and [the Department of Technology and Information] partnered to create the Connect Delaware program. Through this program, we provided over 25,000 low-income students with reliable internet access.”
Among the unique features of Delaware’s program are:
- Its length: The free service was extended for 15 months, longer than even the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit program is anticipated to last, and hopefully far longer than the pandemic will last.
- Its interagency collaboration: Connect Delaware was designed as a collaboration among the Department of Technology and Information, the Department of Education, local school districts, and charter schools. The collaborative structure enabled each entity to focus on its strengths. For example, the Department of Technology and Information developed the program and the contractual mechanisms, alleviating the administrative burden on schools—and enabling the schools to focus on working with students and families to acquire services.
- Its public-private collaboration: The program includes a wide range of fixed and mobile internet service providers who responded to the state’s solicitation.
Learn more about the program on the state’s website.