When the F.C.C. backs telecommunications companies over local governments, low-income residents suffer the most.
By Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, CA
New York Time Opinion, November 8, 2018
More than 10.7 million low-income households in the United States lack access to quality internet service. In cities like San Jose, Calif., local governments are using streetlight poles to facilitate equitable access to high-speed internet to dramatically improve educational outcomes for low-income students and expand economic opportunity for their families. Unfortunately, a recent mandate by the Federal Communications Commission might halt the progress made by these cities.
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Iowa: Rural broadband, and the unknown costs of the digital divide
By Lyz Lenz, October 15, 2018, Columbia Journalism Review
“Despite bipartisan support on the issue, the crisis of America’s digital divide has failed to become a headline grabber or garner any real action from politicians as midterms approach.”
The last time I almost died was in February. A late winter thaw had made me overconfident in the roads, and so I’d gone out in search of an abandoned pioneer church just outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. One hour into the journey and I was stuck on a dirt road, my Mazda caught in an icy rut as sleet came down in sheets. There was no one around for miles. My phone, which has the fanciest data plan Verizon can muster, had no service, no data. I couldn’t see any houses. There was no one to hear me scream. Read more …
Mayor Lovely A. Warren hosted a news conference on July 30 to celebrate Literacy Volunteers of Rochester’s (LVR) new partnership with Spectrum/Charter Communications.
Spectrum News Report
WROC Channel 8 News Report
Spectrum awarded LVR a $50,000 Spectrum NYS Broadband Access and Learning Grant. The contribution allows the agency to extend its Digital Literacy program. The program is a free one-to-one drop-in service to individuals interested in learning basic computer skills or completing computer-essential tasks. The grant will support digital services at Arnett, Frederick Douglass, Phillis Wheatley and Gates libraries.
Joining Mayor Warren for Monday’s announcement was Robert Mahar, Executive Director, Literacy Volunteers of Rochester; Rodney Capel, Vice President of Government Affairs, Charter Communications; and Patty Uttaro, Director, Monroe County Library System.
Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective to better capture reality. As I come to the close of my first year in Rochester, I have developed a strong affection and appreciation for the greater Rochester community and all that it has to offer as a premier place to live, work and ultimately prosper. My wife, Nancy, and I have been warmly welcomed as newcomers, and we both are proud to call this community our home.
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At the same time, the contours of connectivity are shifting: One-in-five Americans are now ‘smartphone only’ internet users at home
Americans tend to view the impact of the internet and other digital technologies on their own lives in largely positive ways, Pew Research Center surveys have shown over the years. A survey of U.S. adults conducted in January 2018 finds continuing evidence of this trend, with the vast majority of internet users (88%) saying the internet has, on balance, been a mostly good thing for them personally.
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From Pew Research Center Fact Tank Blog by Monica Anderson
Nearly 30 years after the debut of the World Wide Web, internet use, broadband adoption and smartphone ownership have grown rapidly for all Americans – including those who are less well off financially. But even as many aspects of the digital divide have narrowed over time, the digital lives of lower- and higher-income Americans remain markedly different.
Roughly three-in-ten adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year don’t own a smartphone. Nearly half don’t have home broadband services or a traditional computer. And a majority of lower-income Americans are not tablet owners. By comparison, many of these devices are nearly ubiquitous among adults from households earning $100,000 or more a year. Read the full article
Two ways you can shrink the Divide
An explosion in demand for computer help has led to a critical shortage of volunteers who work to meet the need. Digital Literacy, which places volunteers in local libraries to help patrons learn basic computer skills and complete computer-essential tasks, is experiencing an ever-increasing demand for its services.
“Over the last three years,” says program coordinator Brian Kane, “we’ve gone from serving 600 people to nearly 3,500. There is a huge Digital Divide in the Rochester area. Our program relies heavily on volunteers, and we need more volunteers to help.”
Digital Literacy trains volunteers and places them in local libraries, where they assist patrons in learning basic computer skills like navigating the web or using Word. They also help patrons complete computer-essential tasks, like creating online accounts, developing resumes, searching for jobs and getting social services.
According to the U.S. Census, about 20% (twenty percent) of Rochester households do not have computers. For the town of Greece, that number is nearly 11% (eleven percent).
Digital Literacy places and supports volunteers in 10 locations around the county. Volunteers need 3 years of experience on a PC, knowledge of Google and its apps, an ability to work with diverse people, patience and flexibility.