(WILLIMANTIC, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today joined state and local officials at Willimantic Public Library to mark National Digital Inclusion Week, an annual observance promoting digital equity across the country.
During the event, the governor emphasized his administration’s efforts to help families in Connecticut get online and leverage digital tools for learning, work, telehealth, and other applications. Most notably, the governor highlighted the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which provides a $50 credit to many residents’ monthly bills with most carriers. In addition, libraries, community-based organizations throughout the state, and individual carriers offer programs to support residents. As of September 1, nearly 70,000 Connecticut residents participated in EBB.
“We’re doing everything we can to modernize state government and ensure our residents are online – not in line,” Governor Lamont said. “But that means each and every one of our residents needs access to the internet so that we don’t leave behind the people who need us most. There are critical efforts underway at the local, state, and federal level to overcome the digital divide, and I am grateful to every person supporting Connecticut residents and advocating for more access.”
“Connecticut is taking steps forward every day that help our residents get connected, but we know we have more work to do,” Doug Casey, executive director of the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology, said. “This year’s broadband bill will help fund the expansion of broadband in the state and help provide a clearer picture of where residents have access — and where they don’t. I’m thankful for Governor Lamont’s support in this important work and inspired by our local libraries and other community organizations that help residents make the most of technology once they get connected.”
“COVID-19 has caused disruptions in three school years now, and students and teachers have been forced to be resilient and flexible in their ability to learn and teach in unprecedented ways,” Congressman Joe Courtney said. “Even as students finally return to classrooms, a working computer and internet access at home are absolutely essential for ensuring they can access lessons and information, remain connected to their peers, and stay in touch with their teachers whenever, and however they need to. Congress created the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to make sure that families can provide internet access for their students and so that learning isn’t further disrupted. I’m glad to see that families in Willimantic, and in towns throughout eastern Connecticut are taking advantage of this federal relief funding.”
“Access to the internet is vital in today’s world, and there are a number of roadblocks that our patrons might face in reaching the internet,” Daniel Paquette, director of the Willimantic Public Library said. “Some of the roadblocks might be internet service, devices to use the internet, or just the basic knowledge of how to use a computer. It’s important that we continue to get creative to address these challenges, and keep up the public-private collaboration at all levels of government to try and bridge the gap by providing places where anyone can access the internet as well as assistance getting what they need.”
This year, Governor Lamont signed Public Act 21-159, supporting equitable access to broadband.
Connecticut-based information can be found at portal.ct.gov/getonline.
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