The Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) in cooperation with the Nebraska Broadband Office and the Office of the OCIO/NITC will hold a series of community listening sessions on broadband access and digital opportunities. Expanding rural connectivity to secure high-speed, high-quality internet access statewide is a policy priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau.
The listening sessions are designed to engage a diverse cross section of Nebraskans to inform the development of comprehensive plans to best address digital equity needs throughout the state and broadband deployment for unserved and underserved Nebraskans. Nebraska Farm Bureau is encouraging its members to attend a listening session and share your needs and concerns when it comes to broadband in Nebraska. To help you prepare for the listening session, Nebraska Farm Bureau has developed topics and questions to consider regarding connectivity in Nebraska. You can find those questions below.
In May, community listening sessions will be held:
- Hastings, May 24, 5:00 p.m., Hastings Public Library, 314 N. Denver Avenue
- Beatrice, May 30, 5:00 p.m., Southeast Community College, 4771 W. Scott Road
- Waverly, May 31, 5:00 p.m., Waverly Community Foundation Community Center, 1130 N. 141st Street
Detailed information on the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment or BEAD program and the Digital Equity Planning Initiative as well as the current state of broadband adoption and affordability will be provided.
Community listening sessions are also planed in June for Broken Bow, Fremont, Kearney, Lexington, McCook, North Platte, Pender, Schuyler, and South Sioux City. Locations, times, and dates for the June community listening sessions will be announced and posted to the Community page of the Broadband Nebraska website.
Questions to consider regarding digital opportunities:
- Would improved broadband/internet speeds be beneficial to local businesses, or businesses that might be located in your community? Specific stories would be helpful.
- Do local internet speeds meet the expectation of advertised and promoted internet speeds?
- Are there locations in your community where the internet is exceedingly difficult to obtain or too costly to obtain?
- Are local internet speeds adequate to support distance learning, telehealth, working at home, and other applications? For agricultural locations, are local internet speeds adequate to support precision agriculture?
- Why is high-speed internet access/broadband important to your community?
- While approximately 10% of Nebraska households do not have any internet connectivity at home, approximately 22% additional Nebraska households have only home or mobile connectivity. How does having only home or only mobile connectivity limit a household’s ability to access municipal services and participate in our increasingly digital society and economy?
- While approximately 7% of Nebraska households lack a digital device, nearly 14% of Nebraska households only have a mobile or larger screen device, such as a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer. How does only having a mobile or larger screen device limit a household’s ability to access municipal services and participate in our increasingly digital society and economy?
- Does your local library have an adequate broadband connection and up to date computers for residents to use? Does the local library help those who may lack technical skills?
- The affordability of a high-speed internet connection is a significant barrier for many households. The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a discount of $30 per month for internet connectivity for eligible households. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. A household is eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if a member of the household meets at the criteria for a number of assistance programs.
- Has your municipality and/or local organizations engaged in efforts to increase awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program? How could the program be better publicized?