Older people using a tablet, iPad, laptop

New Hampshire’s First-Ever Digital Equity Plan Announced

  • January 2, 2024
  • Broadband

Background

New Hampshire is receiving $196.5M to improve broadband infrastructure throughout the state from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  In addition to funding broadband infrastructure, the NTIA is providing grants to states and opening a nationally competitive grant program in support of digital equity – the condition where individuals can fully participate in society through the use of high-speed internet, devices, training and other resources. According to the NTIA:

“Too many communities lack access to high-speed internet. Many more can’t afford it or don’t know how to use it. The divide between those who have internet access and those who don’t is stark. To create an equitable economy, we all need access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet.”

What is Digital Equity?

According to the Southwest NH Digital Literacy an Access Needs Assessment, approximately 8% of households do not have access to a computer. In wealthier households, 95% have a broadband subscription. However, this drops to 64% in low-income households. Digital equity is the effort to provide equal access to everyone in using digital technologies and resources. It addresses the “digital divide,” defined as the gap between those who have adequate access to technology and those who do not. Digital equity also encompasses the skills, knowledge, and support that enable people to use technology effectively and responsibly – a critical factor for matters related to education, the economy, health, community, and the workforce.

New Hampshire’s Digital Equity Planning Initiative

New Hampshire’s multi-year plan for digital equity is being coordinated by UNH Cooperative Extension, the National Collaborative for Digital Equity, and METRO’s Digital Equity Research Center. Assistant Professor Charlie French, Team Leader of UNH Cooperative Extension’s Community and Economic Development Program joined a recent Monadnock Broadband Group meeting and, provided some helpful and pertinent insights to the group on digital equity efforts in New Hampshire (jump to around 44:40 for Charlie’s remarks).

Highlights discussed include:

Public Comment Forum on January 12th

On January 12th, New Hampshire’s Digital Equity Planning Initiative will host a public comment forum to critique the Plan (12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.). Participants will learn about the key components of New Hampshire’s draft plan for digital equity, learn about ways to post comments, concerns, and recommendations to improve it, and share their initial insights. Register now to help shape New Hampshire’s digital future!

Download New Hampshire’s Draft Digital Equity Plan, click here.

To post a public comment on New Hampshire’s Draft Digital Equity Plan, click here.

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