AT&T Commitment to Help Close the Digital Divide Increases to $5 Billion

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AT&T Commitment to Help Close the Digital Divide Increases to $5 Billion

DALLAS, April 4, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Decade-long commitment of internet services and digital literacy resources aims to reach 25 million people to help close the digital divide

Key Takeaways:

  • AT&T commits an additional $3 billion, for a total of $5 billion since 2021, to narrow the digital divide
  • AT&T aims to help 25 million people get and stay connected by 2030
  • The company's additional $3 billion commitment will address the main barriers to connectivity “ affordability and adoption “ for those who need it most.

With millions in the United States still lacking internet, isolating them from digital literacy skills and a pathway to economic opportunity, AT&T announced today it is committing an additional $3 billion by 2030 to help close the digital divide, bringing the company's total commitment to $5 billion since 2021. This cumulative commitment includes an ambitious goal to help 25 million people get and stay connected to affordable, high-speed internet access throughout this decade. Working to close the digital divide is the linchpin of AT&T's mission to leave no one behind when it comes to online opportunity. This commitment is a pillar of the work the company does to help build this country's digital infrastructure.

According to a Broadband Now study1, 42 million Americans still don't have access to wired or fixed wireless broadband connections. And, many who do have access lack the digital skills to take advantage of the economic, health, education and social opportunities it provides. It is AT&T's mission to help every American connect to greater possibilities by not only expanding access to internet connections, but also addressing affordability and adoption challenges. The company's additional $3 billion commitment will address the main barriers to connectivity “ affordability and adoption “ for those who need it most.

"Connectivity is critical for success and prosperity in America today. Whether it's a first-generation high school graduate applying for college, a veteran accessing telehealth services, or a grandparent connecting with their family thousands of miles away ” we want to help unlock greater possibility for the millions of people who remain unconnected," said AT&T CEO John Stankey. "The pace of innovation and the global economy aren't waiting on anyone, and we're committed to bringing connectivity and digital literacy in reach for all Americans."¯

Since 2021, nearly 5 million Americans have benefited from our discounted internet service and digital literacy programs.

AT&T continues to expand its network of Connected Learning Centers (CLC) in communities across the country that are equipped with high-speed internet connections and computers supplied by Dell (NYSE: DELL ), Inc. Our CLCs provide access to these resources, with 37 centers currently operating with support from local non-profit organizations across fifteen states.

AT&T CLCs, such as the Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund (SALEF) in Los Angeles, provide not only internet connections and computers but also the skills and training needed to help people safely navigate the online world. CLC's serve kids, college students, adults and seniors with curriculum that teaches basic techniques for using email and search engines. Additionally, CLCs provide mentorship programs and customized instruction for those who need help accomplishing specific tasks online, such as paying bills, applying for jobs and submitting college applications.

"Coming to SALEF and utilizing their Connected Learning Center has allowed me to pursue U.S. citizenship," said Leslie Gutierrez, who is originally from Honduras. "Without the computers and internet access within the CLC, I wouldn't have been able to gather information as quickly or complete this process as efficiently as I did. The SALEF CLC allowed me to confidently pursue my path to citizenship, and for that I am incredibly grateful."

"As a high school senior, I'm faced with a lot of big decisions concerning what comes after graduation," said Gia Marie Duarte, student at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. "Coming to SALEF made the process of figuring out my path forward a lot less daunting, as I was able to utilize the CLC to research and apply to colleges and universities. Thanks to the SALEF CLC, I have a lot to look forward to in my future."

In addition to AT&T Connected Learning Center growth and impact, communities have seen:

  • More than $123 million in charitable contributions given to non-profit organizations that are on the frontlines of addressing the digital divide
  • 360,000 students reached through The Achievery, AT&T's free digital learning platform in collaboration with after-school program organizations
  • 288,000 adults educated through digital literacy resources, courses and workshops in collaboration with Public Library Association, National PTA and other collaborators.
  • 245,000 laptops, devices or internet connection donations

Whether it is online safety curriculum or teaching people how to manage online transactions “ seniors, students and others are exploring new worlds and feeding curiosities.

Increasing Coverage Throughout America's Tribal Lands

More than a third of Tribal lands lack broadband connectivity2, and more than 18% of indigenous people have no internet access at all3.

Since 2021, more citizens on American Tribal lands can access education programs and healthcare resources virtually, explore new job opportunities and stay current on the latest news from home. AT&T has expanded network coverage on Tribal lands by more than 40% and have opened AT&T Connected Learning Centers on the Rincon and Pinoleville Pomo Nation reservations in California and the Cherokee Nation Tribal land in Oklahoma.

"The Rincon Tribe is committed to closing the digital divide within our reservation," stated Bo Mazzetti, Chairman of the Rincon Tribe. "With the help and support of AT&T, we have built a computer resource lab for our tribal youth, seniors and residents that has already improved the lives of many through student activities and workforce development. It is our continued goal to help advance our people through technology and bring access to educational services to our community. We look forward to other tribes evolving like we have had the opportunity to do."

Our additional $3B commitment will address the main barriers to connectivity “ access, affordability and adoption “ for those who need it most.

Connectivity Services: As the Federal Government's Affordable Connectivity Program winds down later this spring “ absent additional funding from Congress, AT&T will continue to offer our Access from AT&T service. Access makes the internet more affordable for customers by providing qualifying households with high-speed internet for $30 per month. This service includes Wi-Fi at no additional charge and does not include deposit fees. The company will expand connectivity offers to include AT&T Prepaid, Cricket and other connectivity solutions as they become available.

At the same time, AT&T will continue to advocate that policymakers renew funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program and find a long-term solution to support families most in need. People affected by the digital divide need policies in place to help stimulate the private investment needed to create more affordable, high-speed internet access.

Education Offers: AT&T continues to offer discounted wireless solutions to more than 135,000 public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.

Public-Private Partnerships: For those areas hardest to reach with connectivity, public-private partnerships remain key to closing the gaps that still exist around the country. In the last three years, the federal government has provided unprecedented funding for broadband infrastructure, access and connectivity. Since 2021, AT&T has won competitive bids for funding to deploy more high-speed fiber broadband in 12 states including California, Louisiana and Texas. States also are gearing up to receive more than $41 billion in federal funds for building networks as part of the Broadband Equity, Accessibility and Deployment (BEAD) program. We're looking forward to taking part in BEAD funding opportunities and helping to close the country's remaining broadband gap.

Best-in-class 5G and fiber networks:  With Fiber and 5G, we've aggressively expanded our coverage; increasing capacity, and strengthening network resiliency. Simply put, AT&T remains focused on becoming the best and most expansive network in America.

AT&T has the best global coverage of any U.S. wireless provider4  and the largest wireless network covering 99%5 of Americans, with 5G coverage reaching 295 million people in more than 24,500 cities and towns in the U.S., including more than 210 million people with 5G+.

About AT&T

We help more than 100 million U.S. families, friends and neighbors, plus nearly 2.5 million businesses, connect to greater possibility. From the first phone call 140+ years ago to our 5G wireless and multi-gig internet offerings today, we @ATT innovate to improve lives. For more information about AT&T Inc. (NYSE:NYSE: T ), please visit  us at about.att.com. Investors can learn more at investors.att.com.

1 FCC Underestimates Americans Unserved by Broadband Internet by 50% - BroadbandNow.com
2 https://connectednation.org/press-releases/bridging-the-digital-divide-on-tribal-lands
3 https://about.bgov.com/news/native-americans-long-left-out-from-broadband-push-for-equity/#:~:text=As%20a%20group%2C%20Native%20Americans,people%20in%20non%2Dtribal%20areas
4 Based on destination coverage in select countries: https://www.att.com/ecms/dam/att/consumer/upperfunnel/2018/pdf/International-Travel-Guide.pdf

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