US operators AT&T and Verizon expanded programmes to address digital equity, as children commence a new school year and the government offers internet access subsidies through its Emergency Broadband Benefit.

AT&T plans to open learning facilities for students in eight US cities as part of a $2 billion Connected Learning programme launched earlier this year.

With support from Dell Technologies and the Public Library Association, AT&T’s centres will offer low-income students and families free internet access.

Non-profit Digitunity will provide free devices to students who need them, an AT&T representative told Mobile World Live.

Verizon detailed expansion of an initiative designed to bridge the digital divide by providing access to wireless broadband and voice service to underserved communities. The operator partners with state agencies and non-profits to reach eligible participants in a further 11 states plus Washington DC.

The operators participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which covers $50 of qualifying subscribers’ monthly bills. The agency reported 5.1 million EBB participants as of 1 September, with 68 per cent choosing mobile broadband for internet access.