MIDVALE, Utah, December 1, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – According to a new AARP poll of voters aged 50 and over, more than four in 10 (45%) who live in rural areas say the Broadband internet access is an issue in their local community, compared to just 37% of non-rural voters. Rural home Internet users are more likely than non-rural users to rely on satellite or fixed wireless, or to say that cellular service is their only means of accessing the Internet. About four in 10 home internet users (39%) report having problems with their home internet at least once a month.
While over 90% of survey respondents use the Internet, many expressed concerns about the cost. Almost seven in 10 home Internet users (68%) say home Internet service is expensive. Among those who do not have an Internet at home, three in ten (30%) cite cost as the main reason.
“Access to high-speed internet during the Covid-19 pandemic dramatically affected the way seniors across the state accessed medical care, shopped, finished work, and connected with their families.” said AARP Utah director Alan Ormsby. . “However, the pandemic has also highlighted the disparities for those who cannot access it or those who cannot afford it.”
The AARP has long advocated for low-cost broadband internet solutions for the elderly and recently supported the new $ 3.2 billion Broadband Emergency Benefits (EBB) program to subsidize broadband service. band for eligible Americans during the pandemic. The EBB grants a discount of up to $ 50 per month on high-speed Internet service for qualifying households and up to $ 75 per month for households on Native American tribal lands. Eligible households can receive a one-time rebate of up to $ 100 for the purchase of a laptop, desktop or tablet from participating vendors if the consumer contributes $ 10 to $ 50 at purchase price. With the recent passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the program will be recast in January into the Affordable Connectivity program with changes in eligibility and benefits.
The majority of Utah voters aged 50 and over support policies to expand broadband internet, such as building infrastructure in rural and underserved areas, increasing affordability for low-income people and ensuring that all Utahns have free access to public places. Additionally, the majority of voters say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who has helped make affordable high-speed internet accessible to all Utahns, regardless of where they live.
âThe Internet has become a lifeline for all Americans and its access has become a public health problem. In Utah, our most vulnerable residents are the population most in need of this service. It’s time to bridge this digital divide and ensure that older Utahns are well prepared for another national crisis, âOrmsby concluded.
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