Month

March 2021

8
Mar
2021

Internet Access – CT

Internet Access-   CT

During the COVID-19 crisis, internet providers in Connecticut have been making efforts to help the state’s residents get online and stay connected. The information below is a compilation of the packages and offers currently being offered in the state.

Keep America Connected Pledge — Virtually every internet provider in Connecticut has signed onto the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge. This means that companies will:

  • Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers due to an inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by COVID 19.
  • Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to COVID 19 disruption
  • Open all WiFi hotspots to the general public.

Internet providers in Connecticut that have signed the pledge include: Comcast, Frontier, Altice (Optimum), Charter (Spectrum), Cox, Atlantic, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and others. A full list of companies that have taken the pledge can be found here.

In addition to the connectivity pledge, certain internet providers are taking further steps to cover residents in Connecticut. The following is a sample of offers companies are making in the state:

Connecticut Cable Internet Providers

Comcast

  • Internet Essentials is Free to New Customers:Low-income families who live in a Comcast service area can sign-up for Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. New customers will receive 60 days of free Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month. Additionally, for all new and existing Internet Essentials customers, the speed of the program’s Internet service was increased to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. That increase will go into effect for no additional fee and it will become the new base speed for the program going forward.
  • Xfinity WiFi Free For Everyone:Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots, and then launch a browser.
  • Pausing Our Data Plan:With so many people working and educating from home, Comcast is pausing data plans for 60 days giving all customers Unlimited data for no additional charge.

Cellular Data Plans

Access Wireless

  • Unlimited minutes and additional monthly data until June 21, 2020.
  • Visit https://www.accesswireless.com/lifelineor call 1-888-900-5899 M-F 8am-12midnight, Sat 9am-12midnight, Sun 10am-7pm EST to confirm details. Existing customers call: 1-866-594-3644

Assurance Wireless (Virgin Mobile’s version of Safelink)

  • Offering new customers unlimited texts, 350 voice minutes, 3GB of data monthly plus a free Android Smartphone.
  • Unlimited Domestic calls and texts plus 6GB of data free through 5/20 due to COVID-19.
  • Visit https://www.assurancewireless.com/or call 1-888-321-5880 to confirm details.

AT&T

  • Waiving domestic wireless plan overage charges for data, voice or text for residential or small business wireless customers incurred because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Unlimited AT&T Home Internet – All AT&T consumer home internet wireline customers, as well as Fixed Wireless Internet, can use unlimited internet data.  Additionally, we’ll continue to offer internet access for qualifying limited income households at $10 a month through our Access from AT&T program.
  • AT&T World Connect Advantage – Business customers currently on or who purchase an AT&T World Connect Advantage package receive 50% off the current rate in a monthly bill credit (max $7.50/mo.).
  • Helping You Work and Learn Remotely – Businesses, universities and schools can keep their teams and classrooms connected through conference calls and video conferencing with Cisco Webex Meetings with AT&T for 90-days, and seamlessly forward calls to both mobile and landline phones with AT&T IP Flexible Reach.
  • Distance Learning – AT&T is underwriting expenses for a “one-stop” resource center to support eLearning Days from the State Educational Technology Directors Association(SETDA) available to all educators in schools to help them handle school closures and the increase in virtual learning due to COVID-19.
  • To learn more, visit AT&T’s website.

Cricket

  • Dial 6-1-1 from a Cricket-issued phone to enroll in any COVID-19 relief programs.
  • Waiving reactivation & Automated Phone System fees.
  • Customers can use “Bridge Pay” to extend payment period by 7 days. Includes minute plans.
  • Adding additional data to plans for a limited time.
  • Visit: https://www.cricketwireless.com/support/fraud-and-safety/covid-19.htmlor call 1-800-274-2538 to confirm details.

T-Mobile

  • All current T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers who have plans with data will have unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days (excluding roaming).
  • T-Mobile will provide T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot/tethering service for the next 60 days.
  • T-Mobile is working with our Lifeline partners to provide customers free extra data up to 5GB of data per month for the next 60 days.
  • T-Mobile is also increasing the data allowance, free of charge, to schools and students using our EmpowerED digital learning programs to ensure each participant has access to at least 20GB of data per month for the next 60 days.
  • T-Mobile is offering free international calling for all current T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers to Level 3 impacted countries.
  • To learn more, visit T-Mobile’s website.

TracFone/Straighttalk

  • Partnering with Safelink to enroll people in plans with free minutes, assistance with bill pay, waiving reactivation fees, & setting people up with data/texting packages.
  • Visit com/enrollmentor call 1-800-723-3546 to confirm details.

Verizon

  • Will waive overage charges and late fees to support customers who may be financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Announces two months waived internet and voice service charges for current Lifeline customers and new affordable internet option for low-income households.
  • Adds 15GB of high-speed data for wireless consumer and small business customers to be automatically applied with no customer action necessary.
  • Verizon provides first responders with priority and preemption abilities for voice and data.
  • Consumer and small business Fios and DSL broadband internet plans have no data caps.
  • To learn more, visit Verizon’s website.

Last updated March 24, 2020 at 8:40 a.m.

 

8
Mar
2021

Citizen Engagement Guide

Citizen Engagement Guide for the CT Legislature and the Energy and Technology Committee

            Each year the CT General Assembly (CGA) goes into Session to do work related to the State budget or specific “bills”/legislation. Your participation as a CT resident is highly encouaged. For those who think writing or calling legislators and/or participating in public hearings is a wasted effort, IT IS NOT! Especially phone calls and emails to legislators—when legislators hear “noise” they pay attention!

What follows is a guide for how to participate in CT’s government process. If you have access to a computer or smart phone , those two tools will be invaluable.

Getting Started and Making Contact

  1. On a computer go to cga.ct.gov – This is the CT General Assembly where all the work of the State Legislature takes place You will now be on the CGA website and homepage. It provides comprehensive information about legislators, Committees and the bills being proposed or passed into law.
  2. Just below the top of the website, see a horizontal bar of selections. Put your cursor on “Committees”, then drag your cursor to the “Energy and Technology” Committee. Click and you will see the cover page for that Committee. Scroll down a bit and on the left see “Committee Membership”. Click and a list of all Committee members appears starting with the leaders of the Committee. Each Committee member shows a link to their website . Click on a link and you’ll go to the legislator’s own website. There you will see a form for sending them a message.
  3. You cannot be anonymous . You must provide your name and contact information. This is the easiest way to reach a legislator and there is no limit to the number of messages you can send on subject matter of importance to you. You can communicate with your legislator this way 365 days a year, not just when the General Assembly is in session.
  4. On a legislator’s own home page you will also find their phone number. When you call the number, anyone of the following might happen:
  • You might reach a receptionist for several legislators, in which case ask

To speak to the “aide” of the legislator you want

  • You might reach the legislator’s “aide”, in which case describe to them who you are and why you are calling. They will relay your message OR as you to follow up in writing
  • You might reach the aide’s voice mail in which case state who you are, your contact info and why you are calling.

Whether you write or call always clearly state:

  • Your name
  • Town you live in
  • Your contact information. Speak slowly and deliberately.

(State your email address and phone number twice. Spell your name

If that would assure it’s understood for a response)

  • When calling about a proposed BILL (or current statute/law), give the Bill # (statute #) and the name of the Bill (statute) you are commenting on
  • State whether you support or do not support the subject matter and why.
  • Be civil, but you can be angry. You can also be passionate, but not hysterical.
  • It is highly effective to describe how the passage of a particular Bill (or the existence of a current statute) would help you or hurt you. Comments that describe the effect on YOU is paid attention to

 

Your Opportunity to have Your Voice Heard —Public Hearings on Bills

During this current 2021 General Assembly, Public Hearings on proposed Bills are conducted virtually using ZOOM.

Go to https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABulletin/Bulletin.asp and find the entry for the Committee hearing you are interested in. Hearing lists are shown in calendar order.

Typically individuals who wish to testify via Zoom must register using the On-line Testimony Registration Form.  The On-line Testimony Registration Form must contain the name of the person who will be testifying.  A unique email address must be provided for each person registered to speak.  Registration closes the day before the hearing at a specific, published time.

Speaker order of approved registrants will be listed in a randomized order and posted on the Committee’s website under Public Hearing Testimony.  For persons who do not have internet access, they may provide testimony via telephone.  To register to testify by phone, call the Phone Registrant Line at (860) 240-0033 to leave your contact information.

Please email written testimony to APPTestimony@cga.ct.gov in Word or PDF format.  Once again, testimony starts with you greeting top members of the committee (by name) followed by your name, where you’re from, whom you represent (if anyone), then your statements in support or against the Bill or subject matter .

Committees request that testimony be limited to matters related to a Bill’s subject matter or the subject matter being discussed in a particular Committee meeting, not a topic from last year or a different Committee’s agenda.

Speakers at a hearing are limited to three minutes of testimony. Committees encourage speakers to submit a written statement and to condense their spoken testimony to a summary of their written statement(to be sure to keep within the 3 minute limitation .

NOTE: All public hearing testimony, written and spoken, is public information.  As such, it will be made available on the CGA website and indexed by internet search engines.

In summary, there are three ways you can submit testimony on one or more Bills.

  1. In Writing –

Go to https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABulletin/Bulletin.asp

 

Use the CalendarBulletins & published Agenda (s) to find out when hearings will occur and the deadline for written testimony. Most committees will accept written testimony via email, prior to start of the hearing. Some may also accept written testimony by mail (USPS). If you miss a hearing date, submit your testimony anyway. All comments from the public count!

  1. By Phone – If a phone number is listed on the bulletin, you may be allowed to testify by phone , and you will still have to register. Follow the instructions in the bulletin to make sure you get authorized to testify, as well as any special instructions you might need to follow.
  2. By Video Call – Virtual Hearings, as described above, are conducted via a video meeting using Zoom. Follow instructions in the bulletin to make sure there will be a live broadcast via CT-N or YouTube.com

If you have questions on any of the above, feel free to submit them to:   our email address

Useful Links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTGa87Fz4jw – Watch Committee meetings and hearings

https://cga.ct.gov/asp/Content/YourVoice.asp – a citizen guide

https://cga.ct.gov/ – CT General Assembly website

https://ct-n.com/Default.asp – CT Network Website – see calendar of recorded meetings , what’s coming up live, and on-demand (previous meetings )

 

 

8
Mar
2021

December 2, 2020 Minutes

CTAC Meeting Minutes   December 2, 2020 – ZOOM TELECONFERENCE
            (due to virus pandemic)

Attending members:

Peaches Quinn – (New Haven) – Acting Chair
George Alexander – (Hamden) – Treasurer
Yvonne Manning-Jones  – (New Haven) – Advisor
Laurel Colemen (Hamden) Advisor
Anthony Cardo   (Hamden) Advisor
John Jessen (New Haven Free Public Library System – NHFPL)
Johnes Ruta – (New Haven) – Acting Secretary

Sharon Codeane – Comcast Represntative – not in attendence.
Joe Schofield      – CTV Represntative – not in attendence.

  1. Call to order 6:02pm.   Teleconference members on Zoom.

    All members have received XMAS benefit Grubhub delivered pizza items from De Legna
    X Nolo at their residences. Requests received and ordered submitted by Acting Secretary
    Johnes Monday and Tuesday. Ordering required reimbursement to Johnes debit-card for
    $169.43 as the CTAC Connex Credit-Union credit-card would not register for payment
    on Grubhub or either UberEats or DoorDash websites. Connex was contacted but card
    problem not solved.   Reimbursement completed by George.

    2.     New Business
    a.   Yvonne reports that Comcast announcement that it will now charge for “excessive data usage.”     $10 extra on bill for every 50GB over the 1.2 TeraByte threshold up to $100.

    Anthony Cardo concurs on this threshold report. Comcast claims that this will only
    affect 5% of its customers. All CTAC members agree that this is a concern for older
    people, especially during the current Covid-19 Pamdemic, when many subscribers,
    especially elders in nursing home, are confined to indoors all the time.

    b.   Johnes reports that Comcast has eliminated their free Norton AntiVirus download
    for subscribers’ internet protection, effective December 31, 2020.

    c.   George Alexander makes a Motion that CTAC writes to Sharon Codeanne, the Comcast
    Representative for an explanation of this added “Excessive Data Usage” charge.
    Johnes seconds this Motion. Vote unanimous.

    3. Old Business

    a.   Regarding New Haven Library System CTAC participation, Peaches Quinn questions
    City Librarian Advisor John Jessen as to what will be the NHFPL agenda to interface
    with the CTAC ?   John Jessen provides his work cell phone number to confer with
    Peaches and CTAC members.

    b.   Peaches also asks John Jessen: “What about NHFPL provision for City-Wide WiFi?”
    John Jessen replies: “Some schools have already installed WiFi antennae on roofs
    for local coverage for up to a 3 city-block radius around a school.”
    George asks John what is the cost to add a WiFi “hotspot” ?
    John reports the charge of $30 per month, so that five hotspots will cost $150.

    George reminds us that CTAC has a “mission” to be mindful of community needs,
    such as school children needing internet access during the pandemic school closings
    and on-line teaching. .

    George questions whether there are funding donors that can be contacted to defer these
    costs ? Laurel Coleman mentions the on-going CT State initiative for expanded WiFi                    coverage, scuh as the state Technology Group, and the New Haven IT Group.

    c.   Johnes questions the privacy and security of public hotspots, especially regarding
    retail purchases made with credit-cards ?

    d.   Peaches requests John Jessen to enhance the request letter from City-Wide WiFi before
    it will be submitted to the Mayors’ offices for to New Haven, Hamden, and West Haven,
    and the CT State Legislature Communications Committee taskforce. John agrees to this
    request. This process will be addressed in three steps:

  2. Follow-up draft of letter to mayors of the three towns in our district,

    2. We should make contact the CT State IT Committee and invite them to the
    January CTAC Zoom meeting.

    3. John Jessen will reach out to the Legislative Office.

    Johnes Ruta makes Motion to pursue these objectives during December.
    Yvonne Manning-Jones seconds this Motion. Vote unanimous.

    4.         Treasurer’s Report   – George Alexander

    Treasurer’s Report. Peaches asks if there is any news to report for November. George:
    “Not at this time.”

  3. COMCAST Sharon Codeanne – Comcast Representative – not in attendance.

    6.     CTV Report     Joe Schofield – Executive Director CTV – not in attendence.
    No report.

    7.   Next CTAC Meeting by Zoom, scheduled for January 6th, 2021, 6:00pm.
    December 2nd, 2020 CTAC Meeting Minutes respectfully submitted by Johnes Ruta, (New Haven)
    Acting Secretary, December 22, 2020.

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