Monday, August 15, 2011

Time to get busy.

Chances are pretty good that if you're reading this blog, you're either at home or at work, and you have a broadband connection.  What's broadband?  By simple definition, broadband is another word for high-speed internet access.

Before broadband, we had dial-up (I just heard a bunch of groans from those of you who remember dial-up).  Dial-up required a modem on the computer that would dial a number, which when connected would emit a high pitched squeal and  then you were "online".  Dial-up was pretty good for basic internet surfing, but forget downloading music, movies, files or anything over 500 KB.  It would take FOREVER to download a big file.  To put it in perspective, a 10 megabyte file would take 2-3 hours to download.  A few days ago I downloaded a program that was 19 megabytes in under a minute.

Luckily most of us no longer have to deal with dial-up as most of the non-rural population in the USA has access to broadband.  Costwise, though, it's still prohibitive for some.  The average price for broadband access is anywhere from $32-$50 per month.  In today's economy that is still considered a luxury for some.  Many lower income families can't afford this, so they rely on places like the library or school to access the internet.

All of us can agree that the internet is no longer an option, though.  If a student is to succeed in school, he or she must be able to get online at home.  Most teachers today have web pages through their school in which they convey information to their students, including homework, extra credit and other things deemed important.  If a student can't access this, he or she is left out, and possibly may suffer from lower grades.

Recently Comcast Communications, a cable company that services 39 states, rolled out a new program called Internet Essentials.  Internet Essentials offers low-income families broadband for $10 per month, with a guarantee that the price won't increase for 3 years, as well as free equipment and a voucher to be able to purchase a computer for $149.  Comcast does not service Hoover.  Charter Cable, AT&T and Bright House Networks do.

This blog will chronicle how we attempt to get everyone in Hoover on broadband, especially those who are not in a position to afford the current rates.  Hopefully, by the end of this blog, 100% of Hoover will be online.

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