The Internet Innovation Alliance kicked off the fall with a continuation of our Connected Roundtable series, a salon luncheon dubbed the “T-Hive Tech Talk.” After using Zoom for the last couple years, 25 powerful female leaders gathered to talk about how women drive community improvement and that now is the time for them to throw their weight behind the push to connect every American to the internet.

Starting with the premise that women are at the heart of decision-making for households and communities, a key role of women was made clear: ensure that unserved and underserved communities are aware of, and take advantage of, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides a benefit of up to $30 per month applied to the cost of their internet service (or up to $75 per month for ACP-eligible households who live on Tribal lands). Indeed, women have never held a more powerful place in the world via spending power and leadership within their communities.

The goal of ubiquitous connection – from-sea-to-shining-sea – is not only doable, it is a modern imperative. With the jobs of the future, health care, banking, and education often dependent on broadband, we need to make sure that programs like the ACP become permanent or that broken programs like the Universal Service Fund (which draws its funding from outdated and shrinking telephone service revenues alone) are fixed for future generations.

Each of the luncheon participants offered insights on how their organizations work to provide access using the ACP and other tools. From the thoughtful development of a national plan focused on not just access but adoption in underserved communities to community resource centers to cross-country mobile outreach to meet non-internet users where they are, the amazing women who participated in this latest roundtable are rolling up their sleeves to ensure that disconnected Americans do not miss out on today’s important moment for digital literacy. Other topics of discussion included how churches are stepping up to provide support, access, and information to their members and how broadband is life-changing for small business owners, magically able to exponentially expand their customer bases using the internet.

What comes next? Greater collaboration to maximize the platforms available to attendees.

I was honored to lead this dynamic group of women in discussion and treasured toasting to broadband internet for all…18 years after the Internet Innovation Alliance was born with that very mission.