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Federal assistance gives more Memphians internet access

"I know there are a lot of folks out there that can’t afford it, so it’s hard to argue against something like this,” said Harry Freeman, a Memphis resident.
Credit: WATN

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With the help from the federal government, millions of Americans will now have access to internet service thanks to a new program by AT&T and Cricket Wireless.

“Back in the day when it was important to have telephones, I think we’ve gone by that,” said Harry Freeman, a Memphis resident.

We went from telephones to the internet. And you can’t escape it. It is literally at many of our fingertips.

“I use it a lot. I’m not addicted to Facebook or stuff like that, but I go on the net every day for something,” said Freeman.

“Important to the degree that it is priceless…This is where we are in, in society, as a relates to all this technology,” said Pearl Walker, I Love Whitehaven Neighborhood and Business Association Executive Director.

Not everyone has access to internet. That is why the federal government stepped in to help. Memphis residents can now apply for the AT&T and Cricket Wireless Affordable Connectivity Program.

“I think anything that makes it easier for any families to connect to the internet is a good thing. I know there are a lot of folks out there that can’t afford it, so it’s hard to argue against something like this,” said Freeman.

The $1.4 billion program will lower the cost of internet for eligible residents by up to $30 and $75 for tribal lands.

Walker’s organization helps educate residents on using technology and sees, daily, the digital divide.

“There are connectivity issues where they're connected, but then they're not connected. They don't know when they're going to be connected. It’s on. It’s off. The signals are weak. And so, the need is definitely there for all demographics,” said Walker.

“With all of this virtual learning that’s going on, these kids need to have access to the web with high speed connections,” said Freeman.

It is a need some say should have been addressed sooner.

“It's about time. It’s overdue, and I'm just excited. I really think this is going to be something good for the Memphis community and America for society as a whole,” said Walker. “We're all involved with technology, whether we realize it or not. It’s so much more than logging on a computer or getting online.”

It is all about being connected to each other and the world around us.

The Affordable Connectivity Program replaces the temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit.

For more information on how to apply, click here.

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