COLORADO SPRINGS — If you've been struggling to afford quality internet access during the pandemic a new program that provides cash to help cover those internet expenses and a discount on a new device is now available for those who qualify.
During the pandemic our communities had to pivot into virtual environments for school, work, and just to communicate with friends and loved ones. For some people this was a major challenge exposing a digital divide.
So how do people define the digital divide? Well, the Federal Communications Commission estimates at least 14 million Americans lack access to high speed internet and 22-percent of those people are seniors.
I spoke with leaders and volunteer advocates at AARP Colorado about the significance of this Emergency Broadband Program.
"This is a great opportunity not just for older adults, but for all Coloradans and beyond to help close that digital divide and I really hope people will take the actions needed to ensure that they can benefit from this," said Angela Cortez of AARP Colorado.
AARP Colorado has been tracking the digital divide in our state, it estimates 400,000 Coloradans lack access to quality internet service and 173,000 Coloradans have no access to the internet at all.
"As electricity was in the 1930s and the telephone was with universal service, broadband a necessity today and the concern is especially on the western slope, on the eastern plains, and in low income communities and to some extent communities of color there's not as much broadband availability in this state. So, as a result Colorado as well as what's being done federally is trying to increase the availability of the internet," said Bill Levis, a volunteer advocate for AARP Colorado who has been working on this issue for years.
So let's dive into what this broadband program is and how it helps. This is a $3.2 billion program that comes from the third stimulus bill. This will provide discounts of up to $50 a month on internet for people who qualify. Also, people can get a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a new device like a laptop or tablet.
To learn more about the Emergency Broadband Program and to see if you qualify visit: https://getemergencybroadband.org/
You also can contact an internet provider for assistance or sign up by mail. To learn more or get a mail-in application, call 833-511-0311