When Starry internet service became available in his building this month, Craig Allen signed up. At $15 a month, it cost 50% more than his old plan but internet speeds were more than double, helping him feel he could do much more faster.
Allen’s one of the more digital savvy tenants at the Denver Housing Authority-managed Thomas Bean Towers, where low-income residents qualify for subsidized rent. He uses the internet to help him bank, communicate with family and learn about the world. But even though broadband is relatively cheap in his building, he said that many of his neighbors don’t order it.
“Oh yes, there’s a lot of people here who can’t afford it. The income here ranges from $1,000 to maybe $500 a month,” Allen said. “I want to say thank God for public housing because the majority of these people would be homeless, simple as that. …It can come down to internet or food and I think people would go with food first before they go with internet.”
In cities like Denver, where broadband is so prolific that availability is estimated at 99.94%, the digital divide is no longer about lack of internet service or limited to rural areas. A plethora of reasons exist as to why the divide persists in urban areas and the issue is gaining more attention from researchers, organizations and policymakers who debate whether it’s about accessibility, affordability or lack of understanding.
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