Coalition Urges Congress to Create Device Voucher Program

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Late last week, Voqal joined a coalition of organizations urging Congress to create a program that provides vouchers to low-income individuals to purchase a tablet or computer. This program would enable low-income families to connect to the internet and access the opportunities provided by that connectivity.

According to the letter sent to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation:

Without a computer or tablet, more than 11% of consumers across the country can’t connect to the internet — despite Congress’ significant investments in deploying affordable broadband across the nation. Computers and tablets enable people to apply for jobs, fill out government forms, and successfully complete schoolwork. These tasks are difficult or impossible to do online with just a mobile device or no device. Even if a household lacks home internet, computers and tablets enable consumers to leverage private and public Wi-Fi networks across their communities. This is why Congress must include a program to give low-income consumers device vouchers in the budget reconciliation package.

The unfortunate reality is that most low-income consumers, including many senior citizens, students, and workers, can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars for a computer or tablet. Thirty-one percent of non-broadband users cite the cost of a computer as one of the reasons they do not have broadband at home.

To remedy this problem, Congress must pass a device voucher program that provides a broad array of low-income consumers with a voucher they can use to purchase a high-quality new or refurbished computer or tablet. Each household should be eligible for more than one device so that multiple members of the household can connect simultaneously. The program should also provide for robust advertising of the benefit as well as assistance to help eligible consumers enroll.

Voqal believes that social equity is not possible while the digital divide exists. It’s why Voqal project, Mobile Citizen was created and it’s why we support efforts like this to ensure everyone has the technology needed to access the internet. We urge Congress to create the device voucher program and to continue to explore additional opportunities for closing the digital divide.

You can learn more about this issue by reading the full letter here.