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Broadband Affordability and the Emergency Broadband Benefit in California

October 26, 2021

Project: Connected Communities and Inclusive Growth (CCIG)

Download File: "Broadband Affordability and the Emergency Broadband Benefit in California"

This Policy Brief examines broadband affordability and awareness about low-cost options (including the Emergency Broadband Benefit) in California. The study is based on a survey of 2,143 households collected in August 2021. The survey was generously funded by the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF). Among the key study findings are:

  • For the vast majority (nearly 70%) of low-income California households that subscribe to residential broadband, the cost of service exceeds the FCC affordability threshold of 2% of disposable household income.
  • About a quarter (24%) of low-income households that subscribe to residential broadband reported having cut on other essential expenses (“such as health care, food or clothing”) to pay for broadband during the past year.
  • Lack of affordability disproportionately affects minority households, with Black, Native Americans and those who identify as Hispanic twice as likely to report having cut on essential expenses to pay for Internet access.
  • Only about 20% of low-income respondents were aware of the EBB program, which closely matches the program participation rate in California.
  • Lack of information about eligibility and the application procedures are deterring many potential EBB beneficiaries from applying to the EBB program.
  • When provided information about EBB, nearly 60% of low-income respondents said they are “likely” or “very likely” to apply