New Program Brings Broadband To Low Income New Orleans Families
One of the things I hear most often about the digital divide in New Orleans is the fact that low income families do not have access to the Internet. Not the… I have to go to a friends house, or to the library to get on the computer….. type of access. But the luxury that some of us are used to: having the Internet right in our homes.
Today the White House announced that Google, along with ISPs like Cox, Sprint, and Century Link have created a program called ConnectHome that will offer 275,000 low-income families with free or deeply discounted broadband service. Twenty-seven cities will get free broadband services while another places (see: New Orleans) will get it at a discounted rate, around $9.99. President Obama will sign the plan today.
What This Means For New Orleanians
Imagine having just a cellphone to do all your online business. Already sounds like a pain, huh? This is what low income families have to deal with when it comes to using the Internet. The ability for these families to have a computer in the home with Internet access may not automatically close the gap, it will open up new doors for them. I could list all the things that will make life better or easier with having the Internet but we already know that. I think the key to this is the door of learning this opens up for low income kids. Unlike their counterparts, they “unplug” after school, not having access to research, learn, or self-teach themselves about things that interest them. If we look at the Internet for what is has to offer kids, it can be a bedrock for continuous learning.
Earlier I talked about this being the first step in helping close digital gap we have in New Orleans. Another challenge we have to tackle is digital literally. It’s one thing to give Internet access to low income families but we also have to educate them to effectively use this as a tool. We need programs that are geared toward adults who may need extra help in learning how to use a computer and the Internet to solve problems that relate to them.