Last Mile

1. Facilities to Support Free Access (via ACP) for Residents of HPHA Facilities (cross-listed under AEL)

The University of Hawai‘i proposes to build out capacity and common area hubs to provide short term initial service, and eligibility for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) for all public housing residents. Every public housing residence should have access to fast, reliable internet in-unit, with general gathering areas (i.e. site hubs) capable of supporting symmetrical speeds at gigabit speeds, well over the 100/20 minimum requirement from the federal government, for both wired and wireless access. Residential units will ideally sustain slightly lower symmetrical speeds, at minimum supporting the 100/20 basic requirement, and residents will receive ACP enrollment support to afford this high-speed service at $30/month; ideally, facility-wide ACP support will be available from the FCC. In addition, plans to waive service and subscription fees for the first three years are being considered for hub locations and general areas, with residential units receiving the first year of service and subscription with waived fees. 

With respect to gathering areas, on-site technology rooms are vital, exclusive hubs to serving the public housing community at each location (where space is allotted) for more personalized/individualized IT and digital literacy training hosted locally. With the above supported speeds, these rooms will offer greater access points and hopefully encourage engagement with community literacy efforts. Hawaii Literacy currently offers two on-site technology rooms, one at Kuhio Park Towers and the other in Mayor Wright Homes, from which we’ve drawn source inspiration for the site hubs to follow. These two sites can be replicated at other public housing locations for convenient access to residents.

Proposed Funding Source(s): Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund

2. Free or Reduced Access for Qualifying Residents (cross-listed under AEL)

On December 31, 2021, the ACP officially replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) to become the permanent program for cost reduction of broadband services for low income and tribal households. This program is available to any household that meets 200% or less of the 2022 Federal Poverty Guidelines, dependent on the household size. At the end of 2021, household enrollment in EBB concluded at 18,430, a participation count that has since increased under the ACP and is at 25,000+ as of June 13, 2022 (USAC tracker). It is not known how many households that qualified for EBB no longer qualified for ACP under new program guidelines, but it remains that enrollment is low in a state with an estimated 460,000 households. 

Outreach faces limitations to the intended audience under the premise that targeted households do not consistently have access to the web to be informed about the benefits of ACP. Furthermore, Hawaii’s demographics reflects language limitations that may be crippling enrollment success, as the FCC does not currently offer foreign language support for ACP applicants, nor are there locally translated outreach materials for ACP yet. 

ACP enrollment in Hawai‘i relies on “Digital Navigators” who work hands-on with the community to get households enrolled. This process can be improved to maximize engagement and program information awareness through solicitation of translated outreach materials to ensure all households have equal access to this program. Outreach materials should be shared at community access locations in addition to community anchor institutions to ensure visibility within the community. Primary and secondary schools can participate in informing their students’ families by distributing a general news release of the program in print form to their students and families. 

All community sites participating in distributing or displaying outreach materials should be considered for in-person ACP enrollment help sessions, where Digital Navigators are present to assist in the enrollment process. Cultural centers and heritage community centers may also be beneficial to reach populations that may otherwise face language barriers. 

Additionally, online promotion of the ACP should resemble that of EBB efforts in the state, with additional promotion of this permanent program on public access wifi networks. 

Proposed Funding Source(s): ACP; ACP Enablement Grants; BEAD

3. Community Access Locations (cross-listed under AEL)

4. Hawai‘i Mapping Effort (cross-listed under AEL)

5. Rural and Community Buildouts (cross-listed under AEL, MM)

Last updated: June 20, 2022