The 2021 Trial

Our Trial - Tested Process

During the Summer and Fall of 2021, EAB partnered with social services providers Orange County Parent Child Center and The Family Place, educators at Randolph High School, the community convener Vital Communities, and Central Vermont Communications Union District aka ECFiber, to develop a process and a web tool to support families through the process of qualifying for subsidies and accessing Broadband services.

EAB then worked with educators and social service professionals to alpha test this process and tool, making improvements based on challenges discovered and lessons learned from families we qualified for broadband subsidies and services. EAB's process and tool are scalable, cost contained, and effective, which makes them relevant and replicable to all CUDs.

For example, educators at Randolph High identified a family with multiple students sharing one cell phone for an internet connection to attend class remotely and to do homework. That family was referred to EAB. EAB proved household eligibility for federal broadband support, uploaded necessary documents, and delivered proof of registration to ECFiber. ECFiber quickly connected the family to its fiber system and established billing at a subsidized rate of $22 per month.

Summary - EAB 2021 Trial Vermont Final.pdf

EAB's part of the process takes ten steps, but a service and subsidy connection ,may require up to 30 steps or data points to complete. A summary of our trial is posted above.

Steps EAB’s Process:

1. Communicate. Contact community partners such as schools, health care providers, libraries, and related institutions to explain EAB’s service, and the broadband subsidy opportunities for low-income families.

2. Refer. Community partners generate “leads” for qualified households. EAB provides low-tech, easy to use communications such as staff meetings, paper flyers, and email.

3. Contact. Consumers contact EAB by phone or by email. EAB welcomes consumer and begins the registration process, providing information, digital navigation, and data entry.

4. Permission. EAB receives consumer’s approval to use their eligibility information for registration.

5. Match Address to ISP. EAB identifies the consumer’s e-911 address and the internet provider serving the address using EAB’s web-based BeneficiaryConnect tool.

6. Register. EAB works with the consumer to complete the online subsidy registration until the consumer receives an active determination of ineligibility.

7. Inform ISP. EAB informs the CUD or internet service provider when the consumer’s registration is complete. EAB sends the consumer’s datafile to the service provider (in the trial case, ECFiber) to evaluate the requirements for connection at the consumer’s address.

8. Installation Support. EAB tracks the service provider’s response to the consumer, and is available to coordinate approvals with property owners as required. Where additional funding is required to connect, EAB is providing grant assistance.

9. Service. The service provider opens an account for the consumer, makes an installation plan, and contacts the consumer to make installation arrangements. Once installation is complete, billing (at the agreed reduced rate) and service begins.

10. Reimbursement. The “subsidy” is actually a reimbursement for service to the service provider, through the federal USAC system. The service provider may also invoice EAB for authorized additional (non-federal) subsidies when available.

Equal Access to Broadband, Inc. is a Vermont-based 501(c)3 organization.