Milwaukee’s digital divide enacted by service providers, analysis finds

A recent study shows that Internet service — how fast it is and how much you pay — can depend on where you live in Milwaukee.

In Milwaukee, poorer neighborhoods and neighborhoods that have historically been subject to illegal and discriminatory red lines are more likely to get worse internet deals. Unfortunately, this is part of a national trend in which poorer, less white neighborhoods are paying more for poor internet service.

It’s absolutely UNACCEPTABLEand it is presented in a new analysispublished by the Markup and the Associated Press, which reviewed Internet service offerings at more than one million addresses nationwide, including Milwaukee.

How can we have an equitable city where thousands of households lack access to employment opportunities, housing information, vital news media and journalistic information, educational opportunities and connections, resources online government databases, and more?

Now we learn that internet service providers will charge customers living a few blocks away the same price for vastly different internet speeds and overall quality. This is simply criminal and discriminatory behavior, which should be investigated as soon as possible by federal and state consumer protection agencies!

For those who want internet service, there is a federal low cost internet service program which currently helps low-income families pay for high-speed devices and service. The Affordable Connectivity Program offers a discount of up to $30 per month on internet bills, or $75 on tribal land, plus cash to help pay for laptops, computers, or tablets.

According data published in August by nonprofit EducationSuperHighway, only half of Milwaukee’s 131,639 eligible households have enrolled in the program (statewide, Wisconsin lags in enrollment, with 28% of eligible households participating ).

To find the eligibility criteria and apply for program website.

Also, for those without internet service: United Way helps people apply and internet access is available at branches of the Milwaukee Public Library.

About Leslie Schwartz

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