As Baltimore explores plans to bring better broadband accessibility to the city, communities should be realistic about the outcomes for Internet usage for all residents. In her commentary ("Municipal broadband's false promise," Aug. 16), State Sen. Catherine Pugh raises some issues for consideration.
I work to increase technology adoption among low-income individuals. Low-income individuals have lower broadband adoption rates, in part, because they lack the experiences and skills to make computer-based resources applicable to their lives. Lacking this awareness and motivation, the cost of a computer system seems high. While the number of low-income individuals connecting to the Internet via mobile devices is on the rise, important activities that build knowledge and foster critical thinking are still best done on a computer connected to the Internet. A simple and effective approach to getting more people using computer technology is expanding opportunities for digital media education in conjunction with providing affordable computer equipment.
Broadband has the potential to be a great equalizer — providing people access to opportunities they would not have been able to reach before. To strengthen broadband use in Baltimore, we need a well thought out solution that brings better access and adoption to all of our communities. By inviting more competition into the broadband market we can attract greater private investment that will bring improved Internet services to everyone in Baltimore. Only through authentic participation in each phase of the planning process from residents and community and human service organizations, will strategies for increasing access to online resources be inclusive of the diverse needs of all residents.
Gayle Carney, Baltimore
The writer is principal of the Center for Community Technology Services.