Newark has a digital divide caused by lack of access and adoption of broadband. According to 2021 U.S. Census numbers, nearly 1 in 5 Newark households does not have an internet subscription at home. Additionally, 10% of Newark families lack a computer.
“The city of Newark is pursuing a series of initiatives to support broadband access and adoption — enabling residents to work from home, complete schoolwork and online courses, attend telehealth appointments and more,” Marcus Randolph, CEO and president, Invest Newark, said. “Promoting the adoption of ACP is the first part of that work.”
The ACP provides a $30-a-month discount to eligible households, enabling them to obtain free or discounted internet service from most home and wireless providers.
About half of Newark’s 110,000 households are eligible for the ACP program. With outreach underway, nearly 30% of the city is enrolled, with 10,000 households added in 2023 alone.
“Invest Newark and the Newark Alliance are laser-focused on closing the digital divide in Newark and ensuring that all residents have access to affordable high-speed internet,” Aaron Meyerson, Newark’s chief innovation economy officer and director of broadband, said. “Though the ACP program is the most immediate plan to connect residents, we will be rolling out additional programs soon, including connecting public housing buildings and rolling out free Wi-Fi downtown.”
Earlier this year, Invest Newark received a grant of $400,000 from the Federal Communications Commission to promote participation in the ACP. One of just four recipients in the state, Invest Newark’s initial goal was to increase adoption from 36% of eligible households to over 50%. Households are eligible for the program based on their household income or if they qualify for federal programs such as Medicaid or food stamps.
The new goal is to have 70% of the eligible households sign up for the program by June 2024.
“A big part of our success in so many aspects of life in Newark is our commitment to connecting with each other — and the internet is such an important way to do that,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “We’re grateful for the Affordable Connectivity Program that supports our citywide, multiphase approach to promoting residents’ fast, affordable access to this critical resource for work, school, community engagement, telehealth and so many other activities that unite us as Newarkers.”