Access to high-speed internet and digital skills training is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, making connectivity more important than ever.
PBS12 takes a closer look at how internet access is vital to participating in an increasingly digital world in “Bridging the Digital Divide,” a program presented by Comcast NBCUniversal.
Watch the full program below.
The 30-minute program shines a spotlight on the power of connectivity in Colorado, the importance of digital equity, and what’s being done to close the digital divide in our communities.
Digital equity is access, devices, instruction, and the ability to erase fear of using all of the above,” said Trey Grimes, theater and technical director for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. “When I look at that stage, I see decades and decades of history. I see opportunity for the future. I see that opportunity for us to narrow the gap in that digital divide.”
Broderick Johnson, Comcast’s executive vice president of public policy and executive vice president of digital equity, spoke to PBS12 about Comcast’s ongoing commitment to connecting more people to what matters most to them.
There are communities in this country that haven’t had access to the internet. Over time, that’s also meant not having access to devices, and not having digital skills training,” Johnson said. “There’s been this digital divide that has evolved over time and gotten worse in many respects.”
For over a decade, Comcast has been on the forefront of closing the digital divide. The Internet Essentials program is the largest and most successful broadband adoption initiative in the industry. Since 2011, Comcast has connected more than 560,000 Coloradans through Internet Essentials, many for the first time.
Closing the digital divide starts at the local level.
“Connectivity is essential,” said Leo Alirez, founder and executive director of Life-Line Colorado. Speaking with PBS12 at Denver’s Youth Empowerment Center, a Comcast Lift Zone location, Alirez opened up about the role community centers serve to help people access technology.
“Individuals can come here and be able to work on their homework, work on trainings for jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities as well,” Alirez said.
PBS12 also spoke with Zane McCune, a PCs for People computer technician, about how connectivity impacted his life and sparked his passion for technology.
Having access to the internet has really allowed me to advance myself in positive ways,” McCune said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the fact that I know how to use the internet, so think that everyone should be awarded the opportunity to do that.”
To help get more Coloradans connected to the internet, Comcast is participating in the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible households a credit of up to $30 per month ($75 per month on Tribal lands) toward internet and mobile services. Paired with Xfinity Internet Essentials service, eligible Comcast customers could receive free internet service with the ACP benefit.
Speaking at an ACP sign-up event in Denver, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser discussed the importance of working together to get more people connected.
“The digital divide is not new, but it’s time that we close it,” Weiser said. “This is a critical imperative for all of us. It’s a core civil rights issue.”