U.S. Cable Industry Announces New “K-12 Bridge to Broadband” Initiative to Help Connect Students to Broadband for Remote and Hybrid Learning (2023)

In partnership with national non-profit EducationSuperHighway, NCTA members will launch programs that enable school districts to identify students without broadband and purchase service for low-income families

Today, NCTA – the Internet & Television Association, a leading broadband technology trade association in partnership with EducationSuperHighway (ESH), a national non-profit that led the work to close the classroom connectivity gap— announced a new initiative to help increase home connectivity solutions for students, as many schools adapt to remote and hybrid learning classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic. The K-12 Bridge to Broadband initiative will scale innovative solutions that are helping public school districts and states identify and potentially connect students in low-income families, enabling more students to participate in remote or hybrid learning.

In announcing the K-12 Bridge to Broadband program, NCTA and ESH released a framework of core principles that will support the initiative from leading cable internet service providers for working with school districts or states to better identify unconnected, but serviceable, student households and to offer sponsored service arrangements that can potentially connect students in this school year. Since the pivot to remote learning began in the spring, many school districts have struggled to determine which families lack internet access at home. Building on the recent successful school district partnerships in Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Des Moines and several other cities, the new initiative will help school districts efficiently identify students without service at home.

Last spring, the coronavirus pandemic forced nearly 125,000 schools to close their doors – tasking 55 million teachers and students with quickly adapting to distance learning in the final weeks of the school year. While some schools are moving ahead with classroom learning this fall, a large number remain closed and are relying on remote or hybrid learning as the sole model of instruction. ESH estimates that 9.7 million students — half of which are students of color — don’t have a reliable high-speed connection necessary to complete their coursework at home. This could result in significant achievement disparities, especially for those who have been historically marginalized. The new initiative from NCTA and its member companies has the potential to bring us closer towards ensuring all students have equitable access to the internet at home.

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Cable broadband providers that have committed to this unique initiative include Comcast (Xfinity), Charter (Spectrum), Cox, GCI, Mediacom, Midco, Sjoberg’s and Vyve. These providers offer broadband service to 80% of U.S. homes or 110 million housing units. The K-12 Bridge to Broadband program is non-exclusive and open to all internet service providers wishing to join the effort to help schools identify and connect students to broadband.

“For months, our local school district partners have told us that they can’t increase home access because they don’t know which families are without it,” said CEO and Founder of ESH Evan Marwell. “This isn’t something we can wait on, because every day, more students are falling behind. By giving schools the data that shows which students need access, we can speed up the process of getting kids back to learning as quickly as possible.”

“America’s broadband networks are continuing to play a critical role in helping the nation adapt to changes in daily life required by the COVID pandemic,” said Michael Powell, President & CEO, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association. “As the school year begins, these changes are front and center in many parts of the country, with family rooms temporarily replacing classrooms and more schools using online instruction to continue their educational mission. In rising to these challenges, the cable industry is continuing to provide robust and reliable service and is redoubling our efforts to work collaboratively with schools, communities and other partners to get families connected through innovative new service models that will foster and sustain the educational progress of our children.”

The school-focused service program complements many of the low-cost broadband service plans offered to individual qualifying households that cable ISPs have been offering for years – often for $10 per month – which have already connected roughly 10 million low-income individuals to broadband service.

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A number of successful partnerships between school districts and broadband service providers have been launched in recent weeks. Today’s announcement seeks to energize and scale this model by releasing common baseline principles and commitments that will be applicable to all K-12 schools throughout a cable broadband provider’s coverage area.

The core principles reflected in the K-12 Bridge to Broadband framework released today by EducationSuperHighway and NCTA include:

  • NCTA member companies will create a “sponsored” service offering for school districts or other entities. School districts across the country have already begun partnering with broadband providers to purchase home access for unconnected families in their school district. In a sponsored service model, school systems purchase broadband on behalf of low-income students at a discounted rate provided by broadband service providers. This arrangement removes a major obstacle for students, getting them the tools they need to learn successfully from home.
  • NCTA member companies will work together with school districts to identify which students need service. Surprisingly, it is often a daunting task for schools to identify which students lack broadband service but are within reach of a provider. School districts and providers will work together to facilitate the confidential exchange of information to determine student households that do not currently have service. The systems will be built to protect the privacy of student addresses and the confidentiality of provider records but aim to quickly identify households without service.
  • NCTA member companies will agree to a baseline set of eligibility standards. In order for a school district to rapidly assess which of their students can be connected under a sponsored service agreement, providers will develop baseline eligibility standards to assist districts in evaluating which students qualify for coverage. At a minimum, the baseline standards will include households containing students on the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program.
  • To maximize adoption, NCTA member companies will minimize the amount of information necessary to sign up families.In a sponsored service program, providers should limit the data they require from families only to that required for providing service (i.e. confirming the service address) and reducing fraud (i.e. proof of identity).
  • NCTA member companies offering sponsored service arrangements to schools should not use school-supplied information for targeted marketing of collateral services to families covered by the program.Providers would agree to not use any information supplied by schools to target marketing offers to families participating in the sponsored service program for other provider services unrelated to the sponsored service.

"While the pandemic has affected every student and family across the country, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) recognizes some students are impacted more than others and gaps may widen as a result of our current environment," said CCSSO Executive Director Carissa Moffat Miller. "While the situation continues to evolve, CCSSO is committed to supporting state education leaders in their efforts to create systems that will deliver quality education safely and effectively to every student in the next academic year, whether learning happens in-person, remotely, or both.”

“As we witnessed in the spring when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to switch to remote learning, the disparate impact of the preexisting digital divide – the gulf between those who have ready access to computers and the internet, and those who do not – is an urgent and critical issue of racial inequity that will have a devastating effect on the educational opportunities afforded to students of color,” said NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “With the new school year upon us, countless school districts do not have plans in place to address these technological barriers. Ensuring that our nation’s public school students have access to educational opportunities within the safety of their homes during an ongoing national pandemic is essential.

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“This new initiative is a step in the right direction, but there is more work to be done to fully address the digital divide and eliminate the racial disparities with regard to adequate access to the internet in both rural and urban communities. LDF calls on Internet Service Providers and school districts to continue to work together to make sure that all of America’s children receive the robust public education to which they are entitled.”

“The pandemic has not made the internet indispensable, but it has revealed that it always has been,” said Daniel Anello, CEO of Kids First Chicago, a parent advocacy organization that has led the push for broader access to high-speed internet for families. "In Chicago, we built a public-private coalition to create permanent access to remote learning for 100,000 students. The connectivity gap deepens the racial equity gap already painfully persistent in our school system. Universal access will bridge this divide and put the benefits of telehealth, economic and educational resources within the reach of all communities.”

Learn more at: https://digitalbridgek12.org/k-12-bridge-to-broadband-program/ or https://www.ncta.com/k12bridge-to-broadband.

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About EducationSuperHighway
EducationSuperHighway was founded in 2012 with the mission of upgrading the Internet access in every public school classroom in America. The organization took on this mission because it believes that digital learning has the potential to provide all students with equal access to educational opportunity and that every school requires high-speed broadband to make that opportunity a reality. EducationSuperHighway is funded by national philanthropic organizations, and our mission is supported by governors in all 50 states. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, ESH started the Digital Bridge K-12 (digitalbridgek12.org) program to help school districts and states identify and connect students who lack home digital access.

About NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
NCTA – The Internet & Television Association represents network innovators and content creators that connect, entertain, inform and inspire consumers every day. NCTA’s members have invested $290 billion in private capital to build broadband networks that reach 80 percent of American homes and serve72 million customers. More than 200 programming networks are creating imaginative, popular and award-winning television content. Our industry supports 3 million American jobs and employs at least 300 people in every congressional district.


Chicago Public Schools
Chicago Connected is closing the digital divide for 100,000 students through a groundbreaking, public-private partnership. The City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, the philanthropic community, community organizations and leading ISPs are working together to eliminate broadband accessibility as a barrier to digital learning. The $50 million, four-year initiative will close the connectivity gap which disproportionately impacts minority and low-income students based on the findings of a report byKids First Chicagoon Chicago’s connectivity gap.

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Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools (APS) is connecting thousands of students to low-cost Internet solutions in partnership with Comcast Internet Essentials so they can continue learning during the coronavirus pandemic. They shared the critical steps they took to keep students learning during COVID-19 on digitalbridgek12.org.

Clarke County (Las Vegas) Public Schools
TheClark County School Board approved a $6.6 million spending package to purchase internet connections and mobile hotspots. The allocation can provide 20,000 students internet service for one year through Cox Communications. Cox will also provide online safety software tools to block students from accessing inappropriate websites when they are connected through their devices, officials said.


What is the importance of Internet connection to students? ›

The internet has established itself as a vital tool for self-study. Google, bing and yahoo helps in learning and discovering various sources to get the latest information. Students can carry out research on any topic to improve their knowledge and get necessary study materials, which can be crucial for their academics.

What are the effects of Internet on education? ›

It helps the students with the learning process as it helps to simplify the knowledge. Also, it helps to visualize what is being taught by the teachers in school. If you want to prepare for final exams, you can access Video Tutorials and other resources online through the Internet.

How internet connection affects students academic performance? ›

Furthermore, internet access influences academic standards among students, as those with internet access have shown a higher improvement in academic performance than those without. Different internet use, on the other hand, has no impact on academic performance, as revealed by the results.

How beneficial is the use of internet in classroom learning? ›

The internet can also improve class community and camaraderie by facilitating communication outside of the classroom. Class websites or blogs can give students the ability to download assignments and materials, talk with other students, and share their work.

What are the negative effects of slow Internet connection to students? ›

An unreliable connection ruins the pace and delivery of your well-planned lessons, causing low-level behaviour that details the learning. Before you put up with a terrible connection, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure it's running as well as possible.

What are the positive and negative impact of internet on students? ›

Studies show the internet has had a net positive impact on education but has been negative when it comes to morality and politics. Also, people who spend excessive amounts of time on social media platforms tend to be lonely and socially isolated. Excessive internet engagement can also impact self-esteem.

What are the negative effects of internet in schools? ›

Students reporting more internet addiction also found it harder to organise their learning productively and were more anxious about their upcoming tests. The findings also found that internet addiction was associated with loneliness and that this loneliness made study harder.

How does the technology affect the students in online class? ›

Students are able to collaborate with peers using digital platforms, explore creativity through technological features, engage in higher-order thinking processes, participate in inquiry-based learning, synthesize information from multiple sources and establish a sense of online social presence.

What are the positive effects of online learning on student performance? ›


Students have the freedom to juggle their careers and school because they aren't tied down to a fixed schedule. In a traditional classroom setting, class meeting times are set, and the student has no power over this, forcing them to work their schedules around these dates.

What are the positive effects of technology on students? ›

Using technology in classrooms has the potential to create increased student motivation, increased social interactions, positive outcomes, enhanced student learning, and enhanced student engagement. Technology is capable of unlocking keys of learning with all students.

What is the solution of slow internet connection to students? ›

Restart your modem / router. If possible, use a wired connection to your computer. Or at least move closer to the Wi-Fi router. Close non-essential teaching apps that might be hogging the bandwidth.

What is the disadvantage of internet in youth? ›

Bullying, trolls, stalkers, and crime

Another issue cyberbullying is also increasing rapidly over the years. Sometimes, you can be tracked on the Internet by hackers or unauthorize persons; they can be harmful to you by stealing your personal information.

What is the negative effect of internet in children? ›

Children who spend too much time using online media can be at risk for a type of additive behavior called problematic internet use. Heavy video gamers are at risk for Internet gaming disorder. They spend most of their free time online and show less interest in offline or real-life relationships.

What are the greatest risks for students in using internet? ›

The dangers
  • cyberbullying (bullying using digital technology)
  • invasion of privacy.
  • identity theft.
  • your child seeing offensive images and messages.
  • the presence of strangers who may be there to 'groom' other members.

What are the three negative effects of using the internet? ›

The Effects Of Too Much Time Online
  • No Escape From Work: Constant connection means that not only are you connected to your friends and family, but also to your work. ...
  • Lack Of Sleep: Social media can be addictive without us realising it. ...
  • Could Be Linked To Depression: ...
  • Causes FOMO: ...
  • Can Lead To Low Self-esteem:
Oct 17, 2019

Should students get limited access to the internet? ›

Internet access should have limited access to students because there are some contents and sites in the internet which exposed pornography contents wherein it might affect their development especially how they think. It will actually lead them to do negative activities which can cause negativity to the society.

How can I connect my computer to WIFI without cable? ›

Open your phone's Settings menu. On Android, navigate to Network and Internet > Hotspot & Tethering and toggle on Tethering. On iPhone, navigate to Cellular > Personal Hotspot and toggle on Personal Hotspot.

What are the 10 disadvantages of internet to students? ›

1) Hacking is the most common disadvantage of the internet. 2) Personal information in social media is very much vulnerable to hackers. 3) Virus threats on the internet can damage your data and information. 4) Too much addiction to internet leads to time wastage, affecting our productivity and health.

Does internet speed affect academic performance? ›

Despite the positive impact of the internet on academic performance, research findings have shown that excessive internet usage adversely affects one's physical health, family life and academic performance (Akhter, 2013).

How technology affects students academic performance? ›

A very important technological impact on education is increased interactivity and class engagement. In addition, better overall comprehension, practical learning, time management, and combined learning methodologies are just some of the impacts that technology has had on student learning.


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