Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced the launch of the Bmore Connected campaign intended to expand in-home broadband access across the city. The new campaign will be spearheaded by the Baltimore City Office of Information and Technology’s (BCIT) Office of Broadband and Digital Equity (BDE).
“High-speed home internet allows Baltimore residents to send their children to school and access healthcare, job training, critical government services, and work remotely,” said Mayor Scott. “My administration is committed to closing the broadband affordability gap so that every resident has equal access to the opportunities of the digital age.”
The new campaign is aimed at building awareness of the $14 billion Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP is a program run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which helps low-income households pay for broadband service and internet-connected devices.
The ACP provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
“Simply knowing what resources are available to address the lack of digital inclusion is half the battle for Baltimore residents,” said Kenya Asli, interim director of BCIT’s Office of Broadband and Digital Equity. “Through Bmore Connected, we want to ensure households know how and where to access affordable home internet for school, healthcare, work, and more.”
In a press release, the city stressed that the persistent digital divide is linked to poor economic and social outcomes, such as fewer job opportunities, less competitive economies, or lower student performance. City officials said that in Baltimore affordability is the primary barrier to internet utilization and adoption. Further, the city said that the broadband affordability gap is most prevalent in underserved communities and disproportionately impacts communities of color.
In response, city leaders said the Bmore Connected initiative will increase awareness of the Federal benefits available, and engage trusted community partners in citywide outreach and enrollment efforts.
“Internet access should not be contingent on where you work or live in Baltimore City, and funding from the American Recovery Plan Act will help to make that goal a reality,” said the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Programs Chief Recovery Officer Shamiah Kerney.