AI Data Centers Could Help Bridge Rural America’s Digital Divide

“Millions of households across rural America don’t have access to the high-speed internet necessary to fully participate in the modern economy, but the emergence of data center development in new areas to support artificial intelligence could play a key role in filling those gaps. Even as the rapid adoption of AI technologies makes the present feel increasingly like a future imagined in science fiction, the only internet available in many U.S. rural communities is decades out of date. One in five rural households lack access to broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission, meaning that for large swaths of the country the internet means dial-up speeds over obsolete networks that can’t support ubiquitous applications like Zoom or streaming video.”

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URMC Announces First-of-its-Kind Alliance to Expand Health Care Access to Rural Communities

“The University of Rochester Medical Center announced a first-of-its-kind initiative to improve health care access and wellness outcomes in rural communities in Upstate New York through the distribution of telehealth stations conveniently located at local bank branches. Woven into the fabric of rural towns, banks offer the ideal physical location to bridge the geographic divide between patients and providers, offering a vital touchpoint to reach an underserved population. To deliver care in a new way, the URMC initiative unites multiple partners, including Five Star Bank, the wholly owned community bank subsidiary of Financial Institutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISI); Higi, a consumer health engagement company and a service of Modivcare (NASDAQ: MODV); DexCare, Inc., a patient demand and care access platform; and Verizon Business.”

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The Affordable Connectivity Program Needs a Lifeline

“Today brings unfortunate news. Because of dwindling funds in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), the FCC has directed ISPs to stop accepting new customers under the program. It means that, for the moment, households otherwise eligible for ACP will be unable to sign up for the program. And, if Congress fails to appropriate new funds, the program will collapse possibly causing millions of families to lose broadband service they have come to rely on. We continue to be optimistic that Congress can still throw this valuable program a lifeline.”

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Who will lose if Congress doesn’t approve program extension that assists with internet cost?

“As a grandmother to four children, I rely on the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to keep me connected to my family. For four years, the program has allowed me to afford my internet bill. I use the internet to talk to my daughter in Maryland, to watch movies with my grandkids. I rely on the Affordable Connectivity Program for these little joys. But, if Congress doesn’t take action to renew the funding for the program, it is going to run out of money in April and I won’t be able to afford my internet bill anymore.”

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Everyone loses if the Affordable Connectivity Program ends

“No one ever thought that the extraordinary investment in families on the wrong side of digital opportunities would be winding down. And doing so at a time when more than 20 million eligible families have finally found affordable options to connect to remote work, distance learning, health care, and for greater connections to family members, and civil society. As of December 2023, 9.9 million participants of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) were using the $30.00 per month discount toward fixed, or home broadband; 12 million for wireless services; and just under one percent on something else, like fixed wireless or satellite, according to ACP enrollment data. But last month, in response to the lack of a congressional reallocation of money and with funds dwindling, Chairwomen Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) penned a letter about the program’s fate and informed Congress that, on February 8, 2024, that the agency would start freezing new ACP enrollments. Meanwhile, states are steadily preparing to deploy federally subsidized, broadband deployments in areas that will be highly dependent on having subscribers for new and expanded assets. What the end of the ACP means for pending infrastructure, and the range of stakeholders from subscribers to community organizations has yet to be fully considered.”

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The African American Mayors Association Urges Extension of Affordable Connectivity Program Funding

“The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) has urged congressional leaders to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides high-speed internet service to low-income households nationwide. The coalition issued a statement on Jan. 25. “We need Congress to act now to extend the ACP,” the letter reads. “If Congress does not act, ACP funding will be exhausted by this April, leaving millions of students and families without access to the Internet. The ACP empowers low-income communities. Access to broadband equips low-income families to compete for better-paying jobs, take advantage of remote work, and more. It is particularly important for communities of color, who have historically been left behind in the digital revolution.””

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Total by Verizon makes 5G Home Internet more affordable with new national offering

“Total by Verizon, a fast-growing prepaid no-contract wireless provider from Verizon, today announces the launch of its unlimited 5G Home Internet service. The brand’s new Home Internet plan starts at $45/month* with Auto Pay for current and new mobile wireless customers, making high-speed home internet available for customers who want the financial flexibility of no-contract, no-credit-check, pay-in-advance service. Total by Verizon’s Home Internet monthly plan empowers customers to access and enjoy unlimited 5G Home Internet. The service provides customers with fast connectivity for the whole family, with unlimited data and download speeds up to 200 Mbps, on Verizon’s 5G network, ensuring an exceptional internet experience.”

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The Affordable Connectivity Program is an economic tool for Texans

“Nearly one in five Texas households will get some bad news in the coming days: The price they pay for the internet will spike unless Congress acts quickly. Today, more than 1.7 million Texas households and nearly 23 million households nationwide are enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a $30 monthly subsidy designed to ensure that low-income Americans are connected to the internet. But here in Texas and across the nation, we are at an important crossroads. Despite bipartisan support for additional ACP funding, and a White House request for supplemental appropriation, the ACP will run out of funding as soon as April. Internet service providers may already be sending customers the unsettling notice that their subsidies will end.”

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The ACP Helps Millions Afford Internet It Could Be Gone By Next Year

“In an era where the internet is an indispensable resource for education, work, and personal growth, having access to it has become a basic need. Recognizing this, the government initiated the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a revolutionary step towards closing the digital divide in our communities. This initiative has played a pivotal role in helping millions of Americans afford high-speed internet services. However, despite its remarkable impact, there is growing concern that this vital program may not extend beyond next year. The ACP originated from emergency funds dispensed during the pandemic to aid low-income households in staying connected. As remote learning and telecommuting became the norm, it was clear that internet access was no longer a luxury but a necessity. The program provides eligible participants with significant discounts on broadband service and even offers subsidies on devices like computers and tablets.”

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Economic Standard: New Year Offers Congress Second Chance to Extend ACP

“With each new year comes new beginnings and, along with it, a new opportunity for Congress to do right by the American people. One way Congress can do right is by strongly considering a new bipartisan, bicameral proposal to extend the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Appropriately named, the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, this important piece of legislation would, if passed, provide the ACP with a critical $7 billion lifeline to continue operating. First created in 2021 and operated by the Federal Communications Commission, this important program provides disadvantaged households with a discount on broadband service that is good for up to $30 per month, or $75 per month for those residing on tribal lands. In addition, eligible households may receive a one-time discount of up to $100 that can be used to purchase equipment like a laptop, tablet, or other electronic device.”

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US Tech Future is a Verizon-led community-focused initiative working to engage the local community in a discussion about technology and how it can improve the lives of local residents for their benefit and the benefit of the community as a whole.

Our mission is to engage with citizens and community stakeholders in USA to provide information on how technology can work to have a dramatic impact on the way we work and live in our communities.

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