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Communication Digital Citizenship Digital Divide Digital Inclusion Digital Literacy Internet skills UNCA

Toolsets for UNCA Students

WNC Broadband Project team member Marc Czarnecki made a presentation to the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) Mass Communication students on February 8th, 2022.

Toolset Topics for Broadband Advocacy in WNC

The topic: ‘Toolsets’ to help each UNCA student engage on the topic of ‘Internet in Society.’

  • Public Relations
  • Telehealth
  • Education
  • Digital Divide
  • Economic Development
  • Broadband Policies

If you or you know of an advocate for broadband in WNC, please contact Sonya DiPlama, Ph.D, APR, Associate Professor of Mass Communication at UNC Asheville at

Sonya is a member of the WNC Broadband Leadership Team.

Broadband in WNC Digital Citizenship Digital Divide E-Learning Education

Online Learning – Help is Needed

Digital gaps are across our communities. When broadband, smartphones, computers are are available, there is a digital divide for not only students, but parents and elderly populations. How do they learn to apply computer hardware and software for today’s real-world needs.

Digital Literacy Education

The top skills need for using a computer and the internet today include:

  • Using email
  • Searching the web
  • Virtually printing without a printer
  • Sharing online content
  • Conferencing online with video or audio only

Providing internet access and equipment is only a portion of the real infrastructure needed for those below the digital divide.

30% of the parents in homes that tried online learning said that it was somewhat or very difficult to use technology and the Internet needed to take classes from home.

Low-income homes were twice as prone to struggling with the technology, with 36% of low-income homes reporting the problem.


Help your community steward digital literacy by supporting the WNC Broadband advocacy goals. Contact a member of our leadership team with any questions.

CCGConsulting. 2021. “Pew Investigates Pandemic Homework Gap.” POTs and PANs. December 17, 2021.

Brookings Digital Citizenship Digital Equity Digital Inequality Economic Development Infrastructure Prosperity Social Outcomes

Digital Prosperity

Can broadband can deliver health and equity to all communities?

Every industry relies on computing, cloud storage, or other digital equipment to sell goods and services. Employers increasingly demand more advanced digital skills from the labor force. Meanwhile, people’s individual lives often orbit around the internet, whether at home, at work, or on the move.

Brookings – Digital prosperity: How broadband can deliver health and equity to all communities

Broadband is so influential on our society that we can now call ‘dependable high-speed internet’ as an essential infrastructure service.

Broadband’s applications are so far-reaching that these physical networks directly and indirectly affect a wide range of conditions that impact health and life outcomes, known as social determinants of health (SDOH) or conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of life-risks and outcomes (CDC-Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

If broadband is essential infrastructure, then regulation and public policy should support every American community having equitable access to broadband and the skills necessary to use it.

Why Broadband Matters

For most Americans, broadband is commonplace in professional, personal, and social interactions. Yet even with this ubiquity, the extent of broadband’s health and equity benefits aren’t fully understood. In part, this is because broadband’s physical networks do not directly impact health and equity outcomes in the way other infrastructure systems do. Instead, broadband serves as a platform on which a range of different applications operate and impact individuals. Just having an internet connection does not boost someone’s health outcomes—but using the internet to access remote health care providers, services, and information can serve as a conduit to improved physical and mental health.

Because broadband’s applications are so wide ranging, it can deliver services that touch every social determinant of health. From economic stability, to education, to social supports, to civic agency, broadband and the digital services it enables are today intrinsically tied to collective health and equity outcomes.

Economic Outcomes

In terms of economic outcomes, broadband delivers benefits to both individuals and communities. Broadband makes:

  • Job seekerseasier to search for jobs, apply for them, and to keep looking for longer.
    • In turn, businesses reap benefits from e-recruiting, which makes it less expensive to access a larger pool of candidates.
  • Digitally fluent workforce – brings productivity gains to firms, who can then reward employees with higher wages.
  • Macro economic lens – based on higher levels of broadband adoption lead to economic growth, higher incomes, and lower unemployment.

Social Outcomes

Broadband also plays an important role in improving social outcomes:

  • Broadband democratizes access – to education, offering a wide supply of free and open education platforms, courses, and resources.
  • Help people foster social supports – stay in contact with a broader social network. For traditionally marginalized groups who are prone to social isolation, access to the internet allows them to connect to others anonymously.
  • Telehealth – the use of telecommunications to deliver health services and education—can directly improve health outcomes, especially for those who otherwise lack access to medical providers.

Broadband is the Country’s Most Inequitable Infrastructure

The 2020 state of American broadband access, adoption, and use is one of disparate outcomes. According to the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS),

  • 85% of households have subscriptions to some form of “broadband” internet service.
    • ~10% have cellular-only access to the internet
  • 99.6% of households have complete plumbing.
  • 100% of households with access to electricity.

Additionally, the less population-dense an area is; the greater the digital divide due to the costs of connecting and providing service.

How do we become more digitally-prosperous?

Broadband’s ability to reach and positively impact households depends on three critical inputs:

  1. Physical availability
  2. Affordability of services and equipment
  3. Digital skill levels

Western North Carolina Broadband Initiative

The WNC Broadband Project is here to help:

  • Build & grow coalitions
    • School systems
    • Municipalities of Cities and Counties
    • Neighborhoods
    • Religious Institutions
  • Target opportunities
    • Online banking
    • Telehealth education
    • Communities
  • Make resources bi-lingual
  • Gather and effectively present data
    • Data visualization
    • Benchmarks and milestones

If you our your group and help bind opportunities across social, economic, and physical health dimensions, please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Project Team.

Building more equitable broadband infrastructure will improve our outlook on the Western North Carolina social determinants of health.

Adie Tomer, Lara Fishbane, Angela Siefer, and Bill Callahan. 2020. “Digital Prosperity: How Broadband Can Deliver Health and Equity to All Communities.” Brookings. Brookings. February 26, 2020.

Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Citizenship Digital Inclusion Economic Development Internet Privacy Security

Digital Citizenship

What are the Attitudes & Behaviors Around the Internet?

The pandemic has dramatically changed the world, making our lives more digital and changing our attitudes and behaviors around the internet.

Jaya Baloo, Chief Information Security Officer at Avast

How has COVID-19 impacted digital activity? What are the key global findings?

  • Many people will continue to stay online.
  • The internet has been more educational.
  • As online populations grow, so do data project concerns around privacy and security.
  • Lack of understanding and knowledge about digital literacy remain high.
  • Dating sports classes, and banking moved to the online world in greater numbers.

Portrait of a Digital Citizen defines digital citizenship as “a person who develops the skills and knowledge to effectively use the internet and other digital technology, especially in order to participate responsibly in social and civic activities.”

At the core of digital citizenship, privacy is a top and growing topic.

Please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Project Leadership Team to share your thoughts on the importance of the internet.

Local groups including the ‘Experienced Workforce Initiative’ or Asheville 50+ Works are seeing more and more people become internet converts with video conferencing, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms.

The ‘Digital Literacy Network’ of Buncombe County started in June of 2021 and has seen 2000+ website hits in itself.

The internet has grown to become an indispensable tool to help everyone maintain normal lives with educational, employment, social, and telemedicine thanks to high speed internet.

Give back to your Western North Carolina community by volunteering and stewarding digital literacy among your friends, family, and organizations.

The Future of Cybersecurity Education. Security Boulevard. Published September 16, 2021. Accessed September 20, 2021.

Advocacy Broadband access Broadband in WNC Devices Digital Citizenship Education IoT Speed Video Conferencing Work From Home (WFH)

Bandwidth Growth

Requires Future Proof Fiber

What is are the projected peak bandwidth requirements for a household of 4 through 2030?

A family of 4 should ask how to they use the internet:

  • How many and when are the internet devices connected?
    • Tablets, smartphones, desktop, laptops, IoT devices (Internet of Things) like a Ring doorbell with video.
    • Live streaming events?
  • Who uses the internet at home?
    • Students
    • Work from home adults
    • Business – entrepreneurial
    • Telehealth
  • What types of applications use the internet?
    • Gamers
    • Movie streamers
    • YouTube / Vimeo
    • Video conferencing
    • Data file exchanges for employment
    • Social media

Internet Speed Test

Learn more about speed tests and periodically run a speedtest on your computer devices; especially the laptop, tablet, and smartphones.

Sample demo of an Ookla speed test, video is accelerted.
  • Cellular 4G / 5 G speed test
  • WiFi speed test at home vs at work through wired networks

Be aware of the time of day that you are running a speed test as the evening will generally see slower speeds than the rest of the day because of other that maybe on your network locally or in your internet service provider coverage area.

The WNC Broadband Leadership team is receptive to your feedback.

Contact a member of the WNC Broadband Leadership team today.

Also See

Best Practices for Speed Tests

FBA Sees $100 Billion Cost for Nationwide Fiber Broadband – Telecompetitor. (2021, June 22).

Advocacy Amazon Apple iPhone Digital Citizenship Digital Literacy Digital Policy Facebook Google IoT Microsoft Tech Companies

Big Tech Silo Advocacy

GAMY Security Acronym

As a digital literacy instructor, I commonly get students that don’t understand the big-tech silos and the applications or apps that are associated with each of them, so I’ve authored a new acronym GAMY which could be expanded to GAAFMY:

  • Google (Alphabet)
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Yahoo / Verizon

The primary significance is that each big-tech silos needs a security-key to get into their silo. A security-key is a unique combination of an email, username, password, phone number, location, and possibly other multifactor authentications. If you are a Google Business listing, you would also receive a snail-mail post card sent to your physical address; which is yet another piece of security-key data.

Device Security

Each laptop, desktop, smartphone, tablet, IoT, smart TV, smart car or other computer device; individually requires device sign-in security. This device is yet another unique identifier to our profile. When individuals need to change a password, email, or device for an GAMY app; each device must be changed. Ouch!

BTS – Big Tech Silo

These security identifiers are data points held and managed by each big-tech silo (BTS). Is it safe to say, BTS know more about us than our own government? Our government most commonly knows us with only a combination of a name, address, email, phone, social security number.

BTS are the highly profitable growth superstars. Do they keep the best interest of all users when it comes to digital policy making?

Government vs BTS

As users, we really have little recourse to most BTS applications, but to accept their user license agreement or ULA. As individuals, we grant a lot of permission to the will of the BTS. So, who is our advocate of the software and hardware that uses broadband to transport digital information?

So if the Amazon superstar silo says they want new laws, who becomes the effective consumer advocate?

Perhaps we should hold the tech superstars to an even higher standard because of their power over our lives and their influence on policymakers and public perception.

Emily Stewart, writing for Vox’s Recode

WNC Broadband project is your advocate for high-speed internet to use these big tech services.

Who is your big tech silo advocate as a consumer? Especially when is comes to GAMY policy and procedures?

Is our advocate the United States government?

Can policy makers be influenced BTS, including big tech Amazon; without the best interest of the consumer?

.Amazon Wants a Lot of New Laws. The New York Times. Published 2021. Accessed June 6, 2021.

Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship

Better Stewards of Technology

Has the COVID-19 year has made us more of a ‘critical thinker’ in how we learn and behave online?

Online manners – referred to as digital citizenship; is how we should behave when using digital tools, interacting with others online, and becoming better stewards of technology.

eSchool News


THINK to become a better digital citizen

Students and adults need to be reminded about the THINK acronym to behave appropriately online:

  • Is it Truthful? 
  • Is it Helpful? 
  • Is it Inspiring? 
  • Is it Necessary? 
  • Is it Kind?

Read more tips for our digital stewardship in the link below.

Salen, K. (2021, May 3). Is digital citizenship the most important takeaway from distance learning? ESchool News.

Digital Citizenship Resources

Common Sense Education on Digital Citizenship

Digital Literacy Curriculum by



Also See

Work From Home