D.C. launched free internet program for students but few signed up

By: | April 22, 2021

A free D.C. Internet program created last fall to connect thousands of low-income students is still only at a fraction of its capacity more than seven months after rollout.

Since September, D.C.’s $3.3-million Internet for All program has “received interest” from about 9,000 households of the 25,000 the program can serve for a year — just 36 percent, according to the Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

OCTO would not say how many of those families are currently receiving the service or are waiting for it to be set up — only that it put those 9,000 families in touch with Comcast or RCN, the providers D.C. is compensating to supply free Internet.

Advocates are pointing to the lag as a key reason to shift from patchwork fixes to sustainable, long-term solutions that establish low-cost, fast and reliable service citywide, so all residents have more equitable opportunities to succeed in school and the workforce.

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