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Digital Divide Haywood County Laptop

Laptops for WNC

The digital divide is the opportunity gap between those who have ready-access to computers and the internet, and those who do not.

In this day and age, one cannot prosper without full access to online resources.

E2D collects used laptops from generous corporations, refurbishes them in student-led technology labs, and distributes them to student families who don’t have a computer at home.

WNC Broadband and the associated Southwestern and Mountain Area Regional Councils of Government can be proud to have engaged with E2D at the Mill Town Strong Career & Resource Fair in Canton on June 16 where hundreds of laptops were provided to workforce and economic development representatives from Western North Carolina to benefit local families and students.

Home | E2D | Davidson | Computer Donation, Accessed 21 June 2023.

Broadband in WNC Digital Divide Digital Literacy Library

Digital Divide 3s

The digital divide is simply the gap between those who have access to computers and the internet, and those who do not.

The term “digital divide” has moved into the mainstream, as the pandemic revealed how unforgiving life can be for those disconnected from the internet.

As Americans have been forced to work, learn, and socialize from home, many in rural and low-income communities have found getting and staying online a major challenge.

3’s of Digital Divide

Qualifying the digital divide can be with 3 criteria:

  1. Accessibility of smartphones and computers
  2. Affordability of service and the equipment
  3. Understanding the technology or digital literacy

3’s of Digital Literacy

Qualifying the digital literacy element of the digital divide can be with the degree of knowledge with these 3 primary keys:

  1. Checking email, writing in word processing tools
  2. Browsing the web effectively
  3. Online Security, privacy

Closing the Digital Divide in WNC

The accessibility of our digital world is conveniently here with the accessibility and use of smartphones. Although smartphones with their small screens are not ideal for digital communication, it works for most online needs in a mobile capacity.

For low-income, qualifying individuals; lower-cost internet or free-phones (see Assurance Lifeline Phones) and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) are available.

Digital literacy at the foundation is understanding how to consume and contribute content to one or more individuals. In Western North Carolina; community colleges, libraries, or community resources are part of the solution.

WNC Online Resources

Help your community steward digital literacy by supporting the WNC Broadband advocacy goals. 

Contact a member of our leadership team with any questions.

Nicol Turner Lee. 2022. “Can We Better Define What We Mean by Closing the Digital Divide?” Brookings. Brookings. January 11, 2022.

“Assurance Wireless to Participate in New Federal Affordable Connectivity Program ‑ T‑Mobile Newsroom.” 2021. T-Mobile Newsroom. 2021.

“Assurance Wireless.” 2021. 2021.

American Rescue Plan Digital Divide North Carolina

Closing the Digital Divide in NC

American Rescue Plan – Recommendation Investing $1.2 billion

Closing the Digital Divide

The recommendation invests $1.2 billion in broadband access and affordability to close the digital divide in North Carolina. While North Carolina’s economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the gap between residents enjoying economic growth and those struggling to secure jobs, find housing, and pursue educational resources is widening. The funds will provide access to affordable, high-speed internet in every corner of the state and will ensure high-speed internet is equitably adopted and residents are able to access education, healthcare, and business opportunities.

NC Governor Roy Cooper

NC Gov. Cooper: Governor Cooper Releases American Rescue Plan Investment Recommendations. (2021, May 19).

Broadband, education atop Gov. Cooper’s $5.7B virus aid proposals

Broadband, education atop Gov. Cooper’s $5.7B virus aid proposals – Asheville Citizen-Times. (2021).

‌Also See – Digital Divide WNC Broadband Blog Posts

Advocacy Broadband access Broadband as a Utility Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Divide Digital Equity Economic Development

Bridging A Digital Divide

High speed internet should be available to everybody in Western North Carolina.

It is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, telehealth, and civic engagement.

Broadband Call-To-Action

Your call-to-action should be:

  1. Advocate for the timeless investment of fiber to replace copper and cable. It is likely the power company owns your neighborhood telephone poles and a right-of way is needed.
  2. Steward the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to your network. A Federal Subsidy of up to $50 per month is available. Additionally, a one time $100 per household for hardware.
  3. Provide the NC Broadband Office with information about the lack of dependable broadband at your location or a friend or neighbor.

Bridging The Digital Divide For All Americans. Federal Communications Commission.

Affordability Broadband funding Digital Divide Federal Efforts Low-income Access

Affordable Internet for All

Emergency Broadband Benefit

In the coronavirus relief broadband bill ‘Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act’ individuals can receive a subsidy to help minimize the digital divide.

The bill offers a $50 monthly discount for broadband services and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet purchased through a participating provider (one discount per eligible household).

Learn More

Snider, M. (2021, March 11). Coronavirus relief measure could net you $50 toward your broadband bill, help erase the digital divide. USA TODAY; USA TODAY.

Broadband access Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Divide Digital Equity Digital Inclusion Economic Development Education

Digital Inclusion Week

October 5th Starts DIW

Digital equity refers to whether people can access and effectively use the technology necessary to participate in modern society.

Starting Monday, October 5th; the WNC Broadband Project Team starts contributing to an international event – Digital Inclusion Week or DIW.

DIW aims to raise awareness of solutions addressing home internet access, personal devices, and local technology training and support programs.

DIW2020 is sponsored by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance representing more than 450 affiliated organizations in 44 states working toward digital equity.

Call To Action: Show Your Support

Take our CTA or Call-To-Action and email to share your stories of how, when, where, and why digital inclusion is important to you and your WNC community.

Even better, please let us know if you would engage this topic with us on:

  • Facebook Live
  • Google Meet
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube Live
  • Zoom
  • Or your preference of a digital inclusion toolset

#digitalequityNOW #digitalinclusion #DIW2020

Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Divide

Plan Your Internet

The urban/rural divide is in Western North Carolina. For high speed or broadband application including video conferencing while traveling; you will need to plan and test your internet. There are many parts of WNC that do not have terrestrial or wireless broadband.

The adults, parents, children should not be be at a disadvantage because of the lack of available internet as Representative Jake Johnson discusses in the video below.

Rural WNC should not be at an internet disadvantage!


The WNC Broadband Project aims to support communities interested in ensuring access to reliable, truly high-speed internet service.

It develops tools to empower individuals, communities, and area leaders in advocating effectively for their digital needs.

As a community-supported initiative building on the work of West Next Generation Network (WestNGN), it is not owned or controlled by any affiliate of WestNGN.

The WNC Broadband Project is also not financed by any corporate entity, as such financing would be inconsistent with the Project’s independent community engagement focus.

The views, opinions and products of the WNC Broadband Project are the sole responsibility of the Project team and its advisory board, acting in their personal capacity and not in any capacity related to WestNGN, UNC Asheville, or any other WestNGN affiliate.