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Connecting Hennepin - Eliminating the Digital Divide

As part of the county's commitment to eliminate disparities and advance racial equity, we launched Connecting Hennepin, a campaign to eliminate the digital divide in Hennepin County.

 

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The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a new federal program designed to reduce internet costs. The program will provide discounted or free internet to many households.

If you qualify, you can receive a discount of up to $50 per month towards your internet service.

Households can apply for discounted internet if they meet any of the following categories:

  • Anyone currently receiving Medicaid, SNAP, or SSI Benefits 
  • Families with students who receive free or reduced-price school meals
  • Anyone with a current Pell grant
  • Anyone currently eligible for Comcast Internet Essentials OR
  • Anyone that has experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020

The benefit is limited to one monthly discount per household. 

Some plans also offer a one-time discount for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.  

How to enroll

There are three ways to apply for the program:

  1. Online at www.GetEmergencyBroadband.org
  2. Through the mail by downloading the application or calling 833-511-0311 to request one
  3. Directly with a participating internet service provider

If you apply online at www.GetEmergencyBroadband.org, the National Verifier website will check to see if you qualify through a current benefit program. If it cannot automatically approve your application, you will be asked to provide documentation of the benefits you receive or your income loss in 2020. 

You can also contact the Emergency Broadband Support Center hotline at 1-833-511-0311 or EBBHelp@USAC.org.

Overview of available EBB plans in Hennepin County

To find a local provider, you can use the Companies Near Me search tool. The results may vary, below is a list of service providers we know are operating in Hennepin County to assist residents in reviewing their plan options.

Internet service provider 

Website  

Internet service type  

 Device discount 

 Available plans

 Service area

 Comcast   Comcast EBB  Home/Fixed Broadband  No Comcast Internet Essentials
Qualifying customers on other plans will receive a discount
 Most of Hennepin County
 USI Wireless  USI Internet  Home/Fixed Broadband

 No

   Parts of Minneapolis, St Louis Park and Minnetonka
 Century Link  Century Link  Home/Fixed Broadband  No    Most of Hennepin County
 LTD Broadband  LTD Broadband  Home/Fixed Broadband  No    Parts of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, St Bonifacius 
 PCs for People  PCs for People EBB  Mobile Broadband  Yes    Hennepin County
 AT&T  AT&T  Mobile Broadband  No  Pre-paid or post-paid wireless plans including AT&T, AT&T PREPAID and Cricket Wireless.   Hennepin County
 Cricket wireless  Cricket Wireless  Mobile Broadband  No  Any Cricket plans  Hennepin County
 T Mobile  T Mobile  Mobile Broadband  Yes  Any T Mobile plan. Where T Mobile's Fixed Wireless service is available, it is also eligible  Hennepin County

  

It is critical for our clients and residents to have access to computers and reliable broadband connectivity. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the need for digital access in order to participate in distance learning, engage in county services, and access virtual therapy and telehealth appointments.

This work is just the beginning of an ambitious effort and supports clients and residents in three main ways: connectivity and internet access, devices and supports to these services.

More information about the Connecting Hennepin program, what devices will be available, and how to access services, will be posted as it is available.

Results

Testimonials

One mother wrote, “I’m thankful for the laptop so that I can help my three daughters and son with school distance learning. We don’t own a personal computer, and this will be so helpful. Also, my father-in-law was recently diagnosed with cancer and we constantly have virtual appointments with his oncologist. The laptop will be most helpful...”

A woman said the laptop is a critical piece for professional training. “My current laptop freezes in the middle of my work. With this, I will be able to complete all my coursework and apply to nursing school.”

One man said, “I have been down on my luck since I’ve been let go from my job that I enjoyed tremendously. I will use this to help me obtain a job and better myself.”

By the numbers

More than 2,700 Chromebooks went to students who were distance learning.

More than 5,800 Windows laptops went to adults who were job seeking or seniors who with telehealth needs.

Hennepin County wishes to thank all the organizations who stepped up to make this a success, especially our partner PCs for People.

Due to overwhelming demand for GO Pack program, we have exhausted our supply of computers.

We will continue to advocate for the technology needs of our residents. If additional computers become available, information will be posted on this web page.

Our partner in this effort, PCs for People, specifically provides discounted technology to qualifying residents. Visit PCs for People to learn more or browse available computers at their online store.

Literacy MN provided training (see video) for staff and community partners on digital inequities and literacy

GO Packs laptops

If you ordered a computer through this program, updates about the delivery will be sent by PCs for People to the email provided. If you requested through a partner agency, please contact them for additional information.

Get help with your computer

If you have a Hennepin County Chromebook to support distance learning and need help with technical issues or troubleshooting, contact PCs for People at 651-354-2552 or email hcsupport@pcsforpeople.org.

AT&T

Visit website to view offers related to COVID-19.

EveryoneOn

Online tool to find discounted internet and computer offers based on zip code.

Internet Essentials from Comcast

Families that qualify as low-income can receive 60 days of free Internet service. NOTE: Be prepared for long wait times when you call.

MediaCom Connect 2 Complete

Low cost internet for families with at least 1 child in the free/reduced lunch program or recipient of other support services.

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Broadband providers available by county and school district.

PCs for People

Provides computers and technology equipment for people who are low income. Also provides low cost internet.

T-Mobile

Visit website to view offers related to COVID-19.

USI Wireless Internet

USI opened their WiFi network in Minneapolis. Look for the “City of Minneapolis Public WiFi” or “USI Wireless” networks on your mobile device and you will be connected. The process is similar to using Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or the airport. No password or credit card is required to sign in.

Verizon

Visit website to view offers related to COVID-19.

Xfinity

Xfinity has opened their hotspots to be used free of charge. These hotspots are located indoors and outdoors in places like shopping districts, parks, businesses, and train stations.

Youthprise & Minnesota Afterschool Advance (MAA)

Assists families purchase Chromebooks at a discount through the Minnesota Afterschool Advance.

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