Building a bridge across KC's digital divide
The Kansas City Star
The steamrolling interest in all things digital in the Kansas City region is bringing a much-needed focus to neighborhoods on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Internet providers are reaching out to unserved families, offering bargain rates and technical assistance.
Time Warner is working with nine school districts and about 30 charter schools, appealing to families of low-income students with offers of Internet connections for $9.95 a month. Families that relocate will obtain Internet service at their new address at no added cost. That’s important in districts where students and parents move often.
Time Warner is also expanding its number of “hotspots” — places where people can go to obtain wireless Internet services. And libraries in low-income neighborhoods are preparing instruction and technical assistance for families who aren’t familiar with computers and the Internet.
Google, which is bringing its high-speed fiber service to Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, has also offered a lower-priced service for some low-income neighborhoods. AT&T also offers a $14.95 a month option.
For coming generations, there will be no question of the Internet’s relevance. Students connected at home graduate at higher rates than their peers who aren’t. More employers are moving to online applications.
The outreach to lower-income families is good for them, their neighborhoods and schools, and for this community’s future.