News

News

Monday
July, 4
More

    Growth in Emergency Broadband Benefit Enrollment since June has been in Large Cities and Places with Low Broadband Adoption

    Featured in:

    Thursday, November 18, 2021

    Digital Beat

    John Horrigan
         Horrigan 

    Since the Emergency Broadband Benefit launched in May 2021, enrollment has grown steadily. By the end of June, 3.1 million households had enrolled, a figure that rose to 7.4 million by the beginning of November. Analysis of the geography of this growth shows that it was not evenly distributed. South Florida, Detroit, Chicago, and New York City have all seen very strong growth in enrollment since June. In the Los Angeles area, more than 100,000 additional households have signed up since then. At the same time, the general pattern of enrollment indicates that places most in need of the Emergency Broadband Benefit (that is, those with low home broadband adoption rates) have the highest rates of households signing up for the benefit.

    The Emergency Broadband Benefit is reaching people in the places that have the most people in need

    The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) posts enrollment data by 3-digit zip code, which are often sizable geographic areas. Early analysis of zip 3 data showed a number of places—such as Puerto Rico, New Orleans, and Detroit—had high rates of enrollment. Others—such as parts of Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta—had high absolute numbers of people signing up for the benefit.

    Comparing enrollment figures in June to those in November for the same zip 3 areas shows where growth has outpaced the average and where it has not. For this analysis, the focus will be on the top 55 zip 3 area codes in terms of Emergency Broadband Benefit enrollment. In these 55 zip 3 areas, some 2.5 million households have signed up according to USAC’s November data, or 34% of all Emergency Broadband Benefit sign-ups. Between June and November, enrollment grew from 967,710 for these 55 places to 2,496,395 – an increase of 158%. The table below shows change in enrollment for the top 15 3-digit zip codes.

    Table 1: Change in Emergency Broadband Benefit Program enrollment from June to November

     

    June

    November

    Growth

    Miami

    11,228

    46,832

    317%

    Hialeah/Homestead FL

    8,877

    33,501

    277%

    Detroit and parts of Wayne County

    18,808

    68,828

    266%

    New York (Bronx)

    20,683

    75,402

    265%

    Cook County, IL (includes Chicago)

    21,142

    76,385

    261%

    Tampa

    11,899

    42,279

    255%

    New York (Brooklyn)

    23,476

    76,540

    226%

    Memphis

    9,609

    30,480

    217%

    Buffalo

    10,119

    31,671

    213%

    Orlando FL

    12,385

    38,548

    211%

    New York (Manhattan)

    17,801

    54,393

    206%

    Lake County, FL

    6,938

    20,735

    199%

    Hidalgo, Starr, Cameron Counties Texas

    21,291

    63,352

    198%

    Los Angeles (Bell Gardens, Compton, Downey, Gardena)

    12,126

    35,356

    192%

    Houston and part of Harris County

    21,965

    63,638

    190%

    Miami and places adjacent to it have experienced the strongest enrollment growth. The data for some large cities have also shown significant increases since June. Three boroughs in New York City (Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan) have growth rates in excess of 200%, Cook County in Illinois (which includes Chicago), parts of Los Angeles, and Houston all have exhibited strong growth.

    Another emphasis in the June analysis was the penetration of Emergency Broadband Benefit enrollment, that is, the share of all households who have signed up in various zip 3 areas. The June analysis showed that in places such as Puerto Rico and New Orleans close to 10% of all households had signed up, with 6%-7% ranges for Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The table below shows results for the top 15 zip 3 areas (excluding Puerto Rico) in the November data. For this analysis, the top 55 zip 3 area codes in enrollment had an estimated 10.3% of households had enrolled in the program.

    Table 2: Places with greatest share of households enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

     

    Enroll JUNE

    Enroll NOV

    Growth

    % reached

    Detroit and parts of Wayne County

    18,808

    68,828

    266%

    27.2%

    Hidalgo, Starr, Cameron Counties, TX

    21,291

    63,352

    198%

    17.7%

    New York (Bronx)

    20,683

    75,402

    265%

    17.4%

    New Orleans

    13,280

    23,909

    80%

    17.4%

    Philadelphia

    29,655

    75,870

    156%

    16.2%

    Milwaukee County

    21,287

    46,002

    116%

    15.9%

    Cleveland

    28,190

    70,784

    151%

    15.8%

    Buffalo

    10,119

    31,671

    213%

    15.4%

    Tampa

    11,899

    42,279

    255%

    14.3%

    Los Angeles (most of city)

    36,358

    100,475

    176%

    13.8%

    Kern County CA

    7,637

    20,501

    168%

    13.3%

    Columbus, OH and Franklin County

    16,489

    39,341

    139%

    13.3%

    Imperial and parts of Riverside and San Bernadino Counties CA

    11,519

    30,265

    163%

    13.1%

    Lafayette Parish LA

    16,051

    29,233

    82%

    13.1%

    Baltimore

    25,032

    47,666

    90%

    12.4%

    Table 2 shows that South Texas counties, New York (the Bronx), and the Detroit area have high growth rights in sign-ups since June and a high share of overall households who have enrolled. Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Los Angeles have growth rates around or above average since June and also exceed the norm in terms of share of homes signing up for the subsidy. Finally, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Lafayette Parish all have a share of homes that have signed up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit that exceeds the figure for the group of 55 zip 3’s. But that is partly because they were fast out of the EBB starting gate. Their growth rates from June to November were below the 158% figure for the top 55 zip 3 area codes.

    Finally, Table 3 combines results for several metro areas whose zip 3 results were part of the top 55 zip 3’s for Emergency Broadband Benefit enrollment. These results do not necessarily encompass either the metro area of the place listed or the city proper. Los Angeles is a good example. The figures below are for three zip 3 areas for Los Angeles, which include most of the city, part of Los Angeles County east of the city, and a part (approximately 30%) of San Bernadino County. The numbers for New York City are only for the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

    Table 3: Change in Emergency Broadband Benefit enrollment in large metros

     

    Enroll JUNE

    Enroll NOV

    Growth

    % reached

    New York City

    61,960

    206,335

    233%

    11.1%

    Los Angeles

    64,484

    177,206

    175%

    10.1%

    Detroit

    40,315

    119,836

    197%

    9.6%

    Atlanta

    56,112

    118,081

    110%

    5.8%

    Phoenix

    49,399

    101,621

    106%

    6.5%

    Miami

    20,105

    80,333

    300%

    7.3%

    San Diego

    22,939

    54,505

    138%

    5.2%

    As the table shows, New York and the Los Angeles over 250,000 more households enrolled in the program from June to November. Miami and Detroit had large increases as well.

    Puerto Rico is a bit of a special case in this analysis. The three zip 3 areas in Puerto Rico have more than 300,000 enrollees, or about one-quarter of all households on the island. Residents of Puerto Rico have a high take rate for the Lifeline program, with over 50% of eligible households taking advantage of Lifeline compared to a 16% rate for households in the 50 states. It seems likely that many Puerto Ricans are using the Emergency Broadband Benefit to upgrade their existing Lifeline service. It is also possible that, with the well-established presence of Lifeline carriers in Puerto Rico, marketing efforts for the Emergency Broadband Benefit have paid off.

    One pattern emerges across the urban and metro places in the set of 55 zip 3s: there is a correlation between broadband adoption in those areas and the percent of households that have signed up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Places with low broadband adoption rates—such as Detroit, Cleveland, or Milwaukee—have the highest share of homes that have signed up for the benefit.[1] Put differently, the Emergency Broadband Benefit is reaching people in the places that have the most people in need.

    Outreach to eligible populations may matter too. Concerted efforts to boost Emergency Broadband Benefit enrollment may be having an impact. In September, the California Emerging Technology Fund called for more Emergency Broadband Benefit outreach and has worked to spread the word. In New York, the city government and other stakeholders have touted a plan to address the city’s digital divide using the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.

    As the FCC transitions the Emergency Broadband Benefit to the Affordable Connectivity Plan, this data and other research offer some guidance.

    • Uptake of the Emergency Broadband Benefit has been strong. In less than 6 months, more than 7 million households have enrolled. By comparison, the high-water mark in participation in the Lifeline program in recent years was 12 million in 2016 (even though it is about half that today).
    • The pandemic has shown not just the necessity of having service, but also how many people struggle with affordability. In Philadelphia, for instance, one-third (31%) of low-income households lost service during the pandemic because of difficulty in paying their broadband bills.
    • Persistence in outreach is likely to be important. Recent survey research in Philadelphia showed that 13% of respondents had heard of the Emergency Broadband Benefit and 31% had heard of discount offers such as Comcast Internet Essentials. The Philadelphia survey, conducted in July, reflects results shortly after the Emergency Broadband Benefit’s launch; Internet Essentials has been around since 2012. Both figures suggest a need to increase the awareness of these programs.
    • Improving the process by which eligibility for a discount plan is verified would help. The Philadelphia survey found that, among low-income respondents who had not signed up for a discount plan, significant numbers had difficulty determining whether they qualified. The FCC, under the infrastructure bill, has the ability to conduct outreach. If the Build Back Better bill passes, the FCC will have funding to do this outreach. Improved processes for verifying eligibility could make a difference. 

    These findings indicate that demand is strong for programs such as the Affordable Connectivity Program created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, affordability struggles are real, and that outreached and improved eligibility processes can make a difference to participation. Focusing on these administrative details is the challenge for the FCC to meet as it plans the rollout of the Affordable Connectivity Program.

    Results for top 55 Zip 3 areas

     

    Enroll JUNE

    Enroll NOV

    Growth

    % reached

    Miami

    11,228

    46,832

    317%

    7.8%

    Hialeah/Homestead FL

    8,877

    33,501

    277%

    6.8%

    Detroit/Wayne County

    18,808

    68,828

    266%

    27.1%

    New York – Bronx

    20,683

    75,402

    265%

    17.4%

    Cook County

    21,142

    76,385

    261%

    8.6%

    Tampa

    11,899

    42,279

    255%

    14.3%

    New York – Brooklyn

    23,476

    76,540

    226%

    9.4%

    Memphis

    9,609

    30,480

    217%

    12.0%

    Buffalo

    10,119

    31,671

    213%

    15.4%

    Orlando FL

    12,385

    38,548

    211%

    10.4%

    New York – Manhattan

    17,801

    54,393

    206%

    8.9%

    FL Lake County

    6,938

    20,735

    199%

    7.3%

    Hidalgo, Starr, Cameron

    21,291

    63,352

    198%

    17.7%

    Los Angeles II

    12,126

    35,356

    192%

    8.2%

    Harris County/Houston

    21,965

    63,638

    190%

    6.3%

    Boston/Cambridge

    7,156

    20,700

    189%

    4.2%

    CA San Bernadino County

    13,474

    38,028

    182%

    11.3%

    Dallas County

    14,791

    41,321

    179%

    9.1%

    Los Angeles

    36,358

    100,475

    176%

    13.8%

    Fayetteville NC

    13,741

    37,700

    174%

    12.2%

    Kern County CA

    7,637

    20,501

    168%

    13.3%

    Puerto Rico

    112,666

    301,457

    168%

    25.3%

    Riverside & Imperial Counties

    11,519

    30,265

    163%

    13.1%

    Riverside County

    13,474

    35,241

    162%

    10.5%

    LA County & some San Bernadino

    16,000

    41,375

    159%

    6.9%

    Philadelphia

    29,655

    75,870

    156%

    16.2%

    San Antonio/Bexar County

    21,415

    54,065

    152%

    10.0%

    Atlanta – Fulton, DeKalb

    12,319

    31,036

    152%

    9.3%

    Cleveland

    28,190

    70,784

    151%

    15.8%

    St Louis

    13,413

    33,625

    151%

    9.8%

    CA San Diego

    13,559

    33,640

    148%

    7.7%

    Detroit metro

    12,389

    30,306

    145%

    5.3%

    Merced, Stanislaus, Tuolumne Counties

    14,179

    33,876

    139%

    8.0%

    Columbus/Franklin County

    16,489

    39,341

    139%

    13.3%

    Macomb County & Oakland

    9,118

    20,702

    127%

    4.8%

    Indianapolis & Marion County

    17,713

    40,064

    126%

    11.2%

    San Diego County

    9,380

    20,865

    122%

    3.4%

    Cincinnati (Hamilton County)

    15,520

    34,499

    122%

    11.2%

    Milwaukee County

    21,287

    46,002

    116%

    15.9%

    Phoenix

    22,587

    48,512

    115%

    9.8%

    Greenville County SC

    13,191

    28,299

    115%

    7.8%

    Maricopa County (not Phoenix)

    15,153

    32,150

    112%

    7.0%

    Atlanta – Henry, Clayton, Fayette

    14,307

    29,883

    109%

    8.4%

    Louisville (Jefferson County)

    14,572

    30,356

    108%

    9.6%

    Tucson & Pima County

    16,635

    33,721

    103%

    10.6%

    Atlanta – Cobb, DeKalb, Gwinnet

    17,753

    35,857

    102%

    4.0%

    Las Vegas

    29,275

    58,153

    99%

    10.4%

    Kalamazoo County

    10,680

    21,119

    98%

    7.8%

    Baltimore

    25,032

    47,666

    90%

    12.4%

    Oklahoma City

    11,417

    21,179

    86%

    8.5%

    Lafayette Parish LA

    16,051

    29,233

    82%

    13.1%

    Atlanta – Cobb, Cherokee, Carroll, Douglas

    11,733

    21,305

    82%

    4.7%

    New Orleans

    13,280

    23,909

    80%

    17.4%

    Maricopa County (not Phoenix)

    11,659

    20,959

    80%

    3.4%

    Tulsa

    14,596

    24,416

    67%

    9.6%


    Notes:

    [1] Across 30 urban and metro areas in the zip 3 data where it is reasonable to match those places to city or metro level broadband adoption rates from the 2019 American Community Survey, the correlation is -0.4 between broadband adoption and percent of households that have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.


    John Horrigan is a Benton Senior Fellow and a national expert on technology adoption, digital inclusion, and evaluating the outcomes and impacts of programs designed to promote communications technology adoption and use. He served at the Federal Communications Commission as a member of the leadership team for the development of the National Broadband Plan. Additionally, as an Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center, he focused on libraries and their impact on communities, as well as technology adoption patterns and open government data. Horrigan is leading Benton’s research on the FCC’s Lifeline program.

    %post_title%

    Last Mile Source

    Find us on

    Latest articles

    - Advertisement - spot_imgspot_img

    Related articles

    Plans for bigger defense budget get boost after bill...

    BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday he will activate up to 500 members of the...

    Commander Craig: 007 star made honorary Royal Navy officer

    BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday he will activate up to 500 members of the...

    House passes $1 billion for Iron Dome system in...

    BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday he will activate up to 500 members of the...

    5 missing after Navy helicopter crashes into sea off...

    BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday he will activate up to 500 members of the...

    Afghan allies who applied for special visas still in...

    BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday he will activate up to 500 members of the...

    New Taliban head of security for Kabul is wanted...

    BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday he will activate up to 500 members of the...