New Consortium Forms to End the Digital Divide for Good in L.A. County

Reliable and affordable broadband internet access can serve as an engine of economic mobility, educational opportunity, civic engagement and better health care. As our reliance on the internet continues to grow, we are also leaving behind many individuals and communities who have limited or no internet access at all. It is time we eliminate the digital divide.

In August, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved funding for the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation and UNITE-LA to serve as the CPUC's Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortium leads for the L.A. region. Launched earlier this year, the LA Digital Equity Action League (LA DEAL), is an inclusive and collaborative regional broadband consortium employing a community-driven process to assess and address the broadband infrastructure, affordability and adoption gaps that exist in communities across the L.A. region. We can't fully meet our L.A. Compact goals if we don’t close the digital divide, which is why the Compact is joining forces with the LA DEAL to support this effort.

In L.A. County alone, approximately 283,000 households don't have access to quality internet services as reported in the American Community Survey.

LA DEAL is co-led by LAEDC and UNITE-LA, along with a diverse and unprecedented coalition of more than 100 partners from education, government, business and nonprofit sectors working together as community-driven stakeholders committed to eliminating the digital divide in LA County.  

Since April, LA DEAL has held a series of sector based convenings and five monthly task force meetings around infrastructure, affordability, digital literacy, devices and policy to understand digital equity challenges within different sectors. L.A. Compact members from the L.A. County Office of Education, L.A. Unified, L.A. Community College District, and Cal Poly Pomona have been involved in the monthly task force meetings, informing the Consortium on the challenges that K-12 and higher education students, families, teachers, and faculty face. 

This month the CPUC awarded the LA DEAL a California Advance Service Fund Grant to advance equitable broadband internet service deployment in the LA County region. The LA DEAL Consortium will: 

  1. convene stakeholders from internet service providers (ISP’s), government, business, education, workforce, economic development, health and housing;
  2. serve as a conduit between L.A. communities, the CPUC, and large and small ISP’s to identify opportunities and barriers to completion;
  3. pursue additional funding to develop broadband infrastructure; and
  4. ensure prioritization of broadband deployment in communities with the greatest needs.

In addition to the work specified in the CPUC application, the LA DEAL consortium has active task forces focused on ensuring high-speed internet service rate plans have truly affordable options and are accessible to all, high-quality and culturally appropriate digital literacy is available to all, more people have access to suitable devices to use the internet, and regional policy advocacy centers community voice and digital equity to ensure that L.A. County reaches 100 percent adoption of high-speed internet.

As this work continues, UNITE-LA and LAEDC will work with the L.A. Compact to align efforts and tackle the digital barriers that hinder student achievement and workforce development.

For more information, please contact Amy Cortina Mathias, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, at [email protected].

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