Sunday, June 16, 2024

Programs working to close digital divide in Las Vegas Valley

Programs working to close digital divide in Las Vegas Valley

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Access to high-speed internet is a problem for a big chunk of the Las Vegas Valley. FOX5 has reported on the broadband gap and how spotty connectivity can be in some areas — but two programs are aimed at changing that.

The federal government has set aside $14 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which is available to people who make less than double the federal poverty rate or are on some kind of government assistance. Those who qualify can receive $30 a month for internet payments.

“You need a broadband connection to do everything in life these days,” Cox Communications Market VP Janet Uthman said Wednesday. “And it is a great equalizer.”

Cox is one of the providers participating in the program. Uthman says it’s more important now than ever for people to take advantage of it.

“You need connectivity for everything,” she said. ”Whether it’s Telehealth or to do your homework or apply for jobs online or do your work from home.”

Cox has also partnered with the City of Las Vegas to open up an innovation lab on the Historic Westside School campus. Las Vegas resident Abdual Shabazz is one of the lab’s star pupils.

“I’m definitely not of the Google generation,” Shabazz said, smiling. “So you have to be able to bring your skill level up to the virtual world of today.”

At the innovation lab, Shabazz has learned how to navigate the online world, which is just as important as getting online in the first place.

“It’s comfortable, where you come in and you learn,” he said. “That’s the key.”

The lab helps people of all ages with everything from computer basics to coding and has helped Shabazz make himself into a 21st-century man.

“The 8-track tape is gone,” Shabazz said with a chuckle. “It’s dead. This is the virtual world, and if you don’t have virtual skills, you’re totally left out in the cold.”

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