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Basics Broadband access Buncombe Computer Basics Devices Digital Inclusion Digital Literacy Education Event Hotspot Internet Library

Learning Digital Skills

Digital inclusion is happening in Western North Carolina. Recently the Land-of-Sky Regional Council of Governments and NC Work initiated a new program called ‘Digital Literacy Network’ or www.DigLit.net.

The Dig Lit Network supports older worker (60+) pathways to careers in Buncombe County with technology assistance in-person, via phone, video conference, or small ‘Special Interest Groups.’

Device Tech Support

The concept is to provide tech support for the older workforce in WNC. The technology support could be for mobile devices including:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Smartphone

Type of Mentoring

  • Computer hardware
  • Software and applications
  • Hotspots
  • Privacy and security
  • Productivity

Contact Dig Lit Today

To setup an appointment and if you are a Buncombe County resident, 60+ years-old:

Email

Help@DigLit.net

Call

828-365-8299

Special topics of digital literacy groups can also be scheduled for community centers, church, or other buildings with dependable broadband.

Buncombe County Library

Tech Support Walk-In Events

Bring your smartphone, laptop, or tablet and receive one-on-one assistance:

Friday, June 25th

West Asheville Library

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 26th

Pack Memorial Library

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

East Asheville Public Library

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

WNC Broadband Project

The Western North Carolina Broadband Leadership Team continues to advocate for future-proof broadband or true high-speed internet for you and your community for education, telehealth, employment, and other economic benefits and the Digital Literacy Network will help you connect to community resources to grow your digital skills.

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Affordability Assurance Wireless Communication Computer Basics Digital Equity Digital Literacy Hotspot Internet Phone Service

Smartphone

Digital Literacy

An Assurance smartphone is free for qualified individuals it comes with 10 Gigs of of monthly internet data for a laptop hotspot.

Periodically the Assurance phone tent can be found in Asheville.

Assurance Wireless Phone Tent in front of the Department of Health & Human Services Building on Asheville’s Cox Avenue (across from the bus station)

If you qualify, Assurance Wireless periodically sets-up a tent in Asheville and provides a free smartphone for life’s needed communication from friends, family, employers, and more.

  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • Weather forecast checks
  • Web search
  • Video content
  • Laptop hotspot
  • Telehealth

Additionally, if you are 60+ years old and you are a Buncombe County resident… and have questions or need help in using an Android or Apple smartphone for employment or careers, please contact a member of the Digital Literacy Network for assistance.

A member of our tech team will setup an appointment in-person or virtually.

Assurance Wireless Phone

Learn More About Assurance Wireless Phone
https://www.assurancewireless.com

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Asheville Basics Broadband access Buncombe Digital Literacy Free WiFi Hotspot Internet Library Low-income Access

Digital Options

Pack Library in Downtown Asheville

Located at 67 Haywood Street, the Pack Library and is the main branch in the Buncombe County Public Library System.

The first Pack Library was built and named for George Willis Pack in 1911.

This newer, 56,000-square foot facility was built in 1978 and renovated in 2012.

Digital Resources

It includes digital resources including:

  • Desktop Computer Access in the building
  • Popular resources
    • NC Live a statewide library cooperative, supporting 200+ public and academic libraries across North Carolina
    • NC Digital Library powered by OverDrive and Kindle software
    • Story Line and BiblioBoard hybrid software dedicated to keeping libraries at the forefront of their communities in an increasingly digital age. BiblioLabs offers patrons unlimited, multi-user access through BiblioBoard, the PatronsFirst® digital library, and provides tools that empower libraries to thrive as influential centers for creative community engagement.
    • Tax Help
  • WiFi for your own smartphone, tablet, or laptop
  • Online events by age and by type
  • Printing & Copying

What is your favorite digital resource at Buncombe County libraries; and why?


Libraries – Pack Memorial. Buncombecounty.org. https://www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/library/branch-locations/pack-memorial.aspx

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Buncombe Digital Divide Hotspot Laptop Library

Buncombe Library Laptop or Hotspot Loan

With a Buncombe County library card in good standing, a laptop and/or a hot spot can now be checked-out thanks to grant funding from the State Library of North Carolina through the CARES Act, Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

Call ‘Ask-a-Librarian’

Call the Ask-a-Librarian line at (828) 250-4700 to request a device. There is no charge for the service but charges may be incurred for late returns or losses.

Read More Details About Laptop or Hot Spot Checkout

More details are linked in the articles below.

Barrows, K. (2021, April 18). Buncombe Co. libraries launch laptop loan program in an effort to “bridge digital divide.” WLOS; WLOS. https://wlos.com/news/local/buncombe-co-libraries-launch-laptop-loan-program-in-an-effort-to-bridge-digital-divide

Barrows, K. (2021, April 18). Buncombe Co. libraries launch laptop loan program in an effort to “bridge digital divide.” WLOS; WLOS. https://wlos.com/news/local/buncombe-co-libraries-launch-laptop-loan-program-in-an-effort-to-bridge-digital-divide


WiFi Lot Maps‌

WiFi parking lots are also available.

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Asheville Content Live broadcasting Pixel 4a T-Mobile Hotspot

Go FB Live

Facebook Live with Cellular Broadband

A business, a cause, and a reason to go ‘live.’

Tell a story, be real and sincere.

Nowadays anybody can be a content broadcaster.

Going ‘live’ means having a mobile phone, tablet, or webcam laptop with fast, dependable internet; i.e. broadband (download speeds in excess of 25Mbs down and 3 Mbs up; with low latency).

On Location: WAKE by Mel Chin

Using my T-Mobile 5G hotspot and a WiFi connected Google Pixel 4a (5G) phone, and a lapel microphone; these are the Facebook live results from a ‘southside slope area’ of Asheville.

WAKE Facebook Live Event

Here are the results for a local RN Patient Advocacy business posting:

https://fb.watch/4IurhjQBKL/


Prepare you content, test the video/audio equipment including broadband, and you or anybody can broadcast ‘live’ to the world.

The WNC broadband has a speed test available at: https://wncbroadband.org/survey/speedtest.php

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Broadband access Broadband in WNC Henderson Internet Internet Library WiFi WiFi

Hendersonville Library Internet

Broadband is Available at the Henderson County Library

Above are photographs I took on a journey to the Hendersonville Public Library. As a resident of Asheville (without a vehicle), I made a the journey with an Asheville electric bus ride to the airport and transferred to the Apple Country Transit. The Apple Country bus ride took me to Downtown Hendersonville; and then I took a short ~3 block walk to the Henderson County Public Library at 301 North Washington St.

I was enlightened to find the library open and that free internet resources were available indoors.

Computer Help and a Printer

The Hendersonville Library has a Technology Desk with staffing available to assist with your connectivity and basic tech inquiries. Color and black & white printing is also available for a nominal fee.

Learn more about the Henderson County Public Library hours and resources at the website below.

Computers and Internet | Henderson County North Carolina. (2021). Hendersoncountync.gov. https://www.hendersoncountync.gov/library/page/computers-and-internet


The Western North Carolina Broadband Project provides advocacy and educational resources to assist WNC in minimizing the digital divide.

Plan Your Journey

Plan your library journey with resources that are available online:

Questions or comments can be emailed to marc@wncbroadband.org

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Buncombe Buncombe County Schools Education Hotspot

Broadband for Buncombe County Schools

Response to COVID-19, Tech Impact

When the Governor made the decision to close schools late on Friday, March 13, 2020 BCS made arrangements for all of our K-5 students to pick up their 1:1 device March 16-17 (BCS was already 1:1 K-12 with all 6th – 12th graders taking devices home) and began virtual “remote learning” on Wednesday, March 18, 2021 after providing guidance and training for staff.

Over 300 teachers who did not already use a Learning Management System (LMS) were trained on Friday, March 13, 2020 before the governor’s announcement in anticipation of the changes.

We had a homework hotspot (cellular data) program with around 800 students assigned mobile hotspots (600 of which were assigned to high school students) with limited LTE data plans.

Today we have 2800 homework hotspots with the majority now having unlimited high speed data plans. We quickly learned that limited data plans did not support multiple Zoom or Google Meet sessions per day. We also learned that several areas in the county did not have adequate cellular coverage to support homework hotspots. Key areas are Broad River, Sandy Mush and certain areas of Fairview, but there are smaller pockets without cellular coverage throughout the county (e.g. areas in the Leicester area and even within the Asheville city limits).

We identified between 50 and 100 families that had essentially no access to wired or wireless high speed broadband. BCS partnered with Skyrunner and Charter to connect approximately 15 families, but unfortunately the majority of these 50-100 families did not have line of sight to a Skyrunner tower or did not live close enough to a Charter fiber line to get service. Some of these families leverage Wi-Fi at places like our Public Libraries, Broad River Fire Department or Sandy Mush Community Center, as well some travel to family and friends for Wi-Fi.

We did work with the Buncombe County Local Government to gain permission for Skyrunner to place equipment on the Broad River tower. Buncombe County Local Government in partnership with the ACS & BCS Foundation and the Housing Authority are partnering with Skyrunner to provide free Wi-Fi to each HA residence.

One key takeaway was that current satellite Internet options are less than ideal in terms of speed and latency to support virtual instruction.

We also increased staffing for our Technology Help Desk to accommodate a significant increase in support requests and provide support in English and Spanish. We provided custom training to all instructional staff including Best Practices for Remote Learning and specific Learning Management System courses for Seesaw (K-2), Google Classroom and Canvas.

Digital Learning in partnership with Curriculum, Student Services and Special Services created a Remote Learning Guide for teachers. This guide was based on data from the Friday Institute and adapted for our school system. It is continually updated as we learn more about remote learning. Digital Learning created a Virtual Days website for parents, students, teachers and staff to support remote learning. Our BCS Virtual Academy was expanded to accommodate new applicants. Digital Learning created online tutorials and professional development (BCS Digital Learning YouTube Channel) and Language Services translated tutorials into Spanish and Russian. Teachers were required to complete remote learning and LMS training at the beginning of this school year. Weekly optional live virtual trainings are available and recordings are posted on our YouTube channel. Continuing education credits are given for the trainings.

We have learned a great deal due to this unprecedented pandemic. One thing is for sure, our staff and students are resilient and they have, for the most part, adapted to online learning during this challenging time while also becoming more technologically savvy.

Barry Pace, Director of Technology, Buncombe County Schools
Categories
Apple iPhone Free WiFi iOS Mobile Data Wireless

Broadband and Mobility

Asheville is Sunny and 58 degrees

Marc Czarnecki – AB Tech Continuing Education Technology Instructor

As an instructor at Asheville-Buncombe Community College Continuing Education, I see students mostly in the 50+ demographic who don’t have technology support readily available to them. During this week’s Apple iPhone class at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Ferguson Workforce Building; students shared stories and I answered several questions related to broadband.

Asheville Cell Tower

iPhone is Cellular-Data Dependent

The smallest computer that most of us own is a smartphone. It depends on broadband to connect to cloud-based services; including location-sharing features such as weather forecasts and timing information. Our mobility with the smartphone requires data from cellular towers, as pictured.

These cell towers require infrastructure including electricity and fiber optic cables to connect to internet servers. Although cellular data provides internet connectivity, usually at slower speeds than a home or business wired terrestrial broadband connections; with the topography of Western North Carolina, can wireless services provide more digital inclusion?

WiFi Smartphone Connections

With mobility comes the awareness that a user’s cellular data plan is expensive and can have data caps. Additionally, ‘unlimited data plans’ usually have data-throttle thresholds where cellular connectivity speeds are lowered. Thus a mobile device user is attracted to ‘free WiFi.’ Speed testing a ‘free WiFi’ location will also give you a indicator of how fast data is exchanged at the location, thus making a pleasant or not-so pleasant experience.

Free WiFi Pros / Cons

Security and privacy become pro & con considerations where ‘free WiFi’ is located.

  • Is the available network valid? Don’t trust just the name of the network. Ask an employee.
  • Public networks may provide opportunities for data details to be captured. As a general rule DO NOT use ‘free WiFi’ for financial or other personally sensitive information. Consider using a Virtual Private Network or VPN.
  • How reliable is the network? Is there trusted Information Technology staff maintaining the network?
  • Advertisements may be presented to you in exchange for the free service.
  • Generally lower broadband speeds can be expected.

Advocating Broadband for WNC

The Western Carolina Broadband leadership team is here to advocate for ‘future-proof’ broadband investments.

Please email the WNCBP team with questions or comments.

Categories
Broadband access Hotspot WiFi Wireless

WiFi Hotspot

Internet access is available different forms, for those that can afford access.

In light of the COVID pandemic, WiFi hotspots have become a temporary hardware patch to deliver internet to students that did not have broadband connectivity.

Benefits of Mobile Hotspot

  • Faster speeds than personal hotspots on a smartphone
  • Signal stability
  • Mobility to move the unit easily
  • Typically more secure
  • Several users and devices can be connected

Cons of Mobile Hotspot

  • Speed is dependent on the proximity of the tower
  • Speeds are dependent on the build-out of the carrier in rural areas
  • Weaker signal requires more power
  • Low data caps, when exceeded will cause data throttling

Also See


“What Is a WiFi Hotspot? | CenturyLink.” Centurylink.com, 2020, www.centurylink.com/home/help/internet/wireless/what-is-a-wi-fi-hotspot1.html . Accessed 12 Dec. 2020.

Guzzardo J. Pros and Cons to using Wi-Fi and Cellular Internet – Resource. Resource. Published January 9, 2020. Accessed December 13, 2020. http://resourcemagonline.com/2020/01/pros-and-cons-to-using-wi-fi-and-cellular-internet/181390/

Categories
Broadband access Smartphone WiFi

Smartphone Personal Hotspot

Individuals that can afford internet are likely to have terrestrial (land) or fixed wireless internet access at home or at public locations. Internet access can also be acquired using a smartphone when the personal hotspot option is turned-on.

Holiday travels and sometimes the need for faster internet maybe available using a smartphone’s hotspot feature. Also, in Western North Carolina with winter weather potential of wind, snow, ice; understanding how to use a smartphone hotspot can an provide internet connectivity alternative provided the smartphone has data time available through the mobile phone provider. Cellular data speeds are dependent on the the proximity of a cellular tower and the network traffic.

With the majority of smartphones run either an Apple iOS or Google Android, how do you use a smartphone’s personal hotspot feature?

Example of an iPhone Personal Hotspot Screen

Consider a practice session and running a speed test to see how it compares to your home’s service. Again, be aware of your cellular providers limitations of usage as they vary by provider and the level of plan that you are using.

Also See

Speedtest Best Practices

WiFi Hotspot