Internet access has become integral to daily life functions, yet many low-income families struggle to afford high-speed broadband services. Acknowledging the pressing issue of internet access, Los Angeles County has initiated a program to offer cost-effective internet plans to residents in underserved neighborhoods.

Tailored to address the needs of low-income households in South Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, and Boyle Heights, the county’s new high-speed broadband service aims to overcome the barriers of financial constraints. With plans commencing at a modest $25 per month, the initiative aspires to bridge the digital gap and ensure that all Angelenos are equipped to thrive online and off.  Michael Owh, director of the county’s Internal Services Department, emphasizes the importance of this initiative. He states that providing affordable internet plans empowers residents to access vital services, pursue educational opportunities, and build stronger connections within their communities.

Facilitated through collaborative public-private partnerships known as Community Broadband Networks, the initiative will furnish a rapid, fixed wireless connection boasting speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second. Market rate plans span from $65 to $85 per month, offering speeds ranging from 500 Mbps to 2 gigs. However, residents from low-income backgrounds may qualify for reduced rates, enabling them to secure basic internet access for as little as $25 per month.

Eligibility for the discounted plans hinges on household income, with applicants mandated to demonstrate an income below 200% of the federal poverty line or be recipients of government benefits such as SNAP, Medicaid, or free/reduced lunch. All plans encompass unlimited data and entail no contractual obligations, prioritizing flexibility and affordability for families in need.


The initial deployment of the service will concentrate on two major areas: East Los Angeles/Boyle Heights and South Los Angeles. In East LA/Boyle Heights, the network will extend its reach to approximately 84,000 households across a 25-square-mile expanse, incorporating neighborhoods like Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, and El Sereno. Similarly, the South LA project will extend its coverage to roughly 182,000 households within a 44-square-mile precinct, including communities such as Florence, Watts, and Athens.

Construction of the networks will employ a fusion of landlines, radio links, and infrastructure mounted on public edifices and streetlights. This innovative method aims to curtail costs while amplifying coverage, making it so that even the most marginalized neighborhoods gain access to top-tier internet service.

The initiative is particularly timely, given that the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the necessity of internet access and exacerbated the digital divide. With millions of federal relief dollars earmarked to tackle this issue, Los Angeles County is proactively striving to bridge the gap and furnish equitable opportunities to all residents. 

Los Angeles County remains focused on maintaining transparency and accountability as the initiative progresses. Partner companies are mandated to offer multilingual customer service, cost-effective plans, and complimentary professional installation and equipment. The county is also actively pursuing grants to expand the service to additional communities and address the diverse needs of its residents. Along with improving internet access for families from lower-income households, these initiatives and programs make significant strides toward crafting a more inclusive, equitable, and flourishing society.