Broadband access Digital Inequality Low-income Access

Digital Deserts

Broadband Drought Locations

Drought in the Western NC Mountains

For those of us who drive west, you quickly realize the quality and availability of cellular access points becomes more and more remote. The residents and businesses in these areas are also likely to have poorer fixed internet options.

With more and more interactions being required online from governments and related businesses, broadband or high-speed internet can starve individuals and communities of life-necessities of internet connectivity.

Community Broadband Access Points

To connect and communicate through the internet requires internet service providers. Wireless service providers facilitate some coverage, however this is usually at a premium of having a smartphone and sometimes expensive monthly cellular plans, most with contracts. Additionally our mountainous region has geographic limitations for WISP or wireless internet service providers.

Municipalities do provide public access points in their buildings and schools, medical facilities provide public access at most locations, many restaurants provide public access points, and my favorite are communities centers including public libraries.

Escape the Digital Desert for Seniors

School age students have the benefit of digital stewardship at public schools. But what about the senior demographic in Western North Carolina? What do they do if they don’t have a partner, spouse, children, or a community member to steward their digital needs?

Barrier to entry is really high for seniors in order to start using or feel comfortable using devices or the internet.

Deirdre Lee, Program Coordinator of Senior Planet Colorado

It appears significant Federal and State infrastructure monies are coming, including funding to grow digital connectivity and water the digital deserts. How will computer equipment and digital literacy be planned as part of the changing our digital deserts?

Digital Navigator Marc

Digital Navigator – Marc Czarnecki, alias Web Tech Czar

The author of this article, Marc Czarnecki, alias Web Tech Czar; is a member of the WNC Broadband Project Leadership team with a role of a Digital Navigator for the Digital Literacy Network and facilitates computer-tech education at NCWorks Career Center of Asheville, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Meet-the-GeeksAsheville SCORE, UNC Asheville Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and the Experienced Workforce Initiative of WNC.

Marc leverages 4G and 5G hotspot technologies from Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and area community WiFi access points.

Contact Marc with your ideas to change our WNC digital deserts:

NaBeela Washington. Escaping the Digital Desert – Senior Planet digital desert. Senior Planet. Published August 5, 2021. Accessed August 15, 2021.