WBEZ | digital divide http://www.wbez.org/tags/digital-divide Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Internet access expands in Cuba - for those who can afford it http://www.wbez.org/news/internet-access-expands-cuba-those-who-can-afford-it-113194 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/kahncuba--5--edit_custom-d28b46ce7c1fa4f28843f0b8da141f0a050631d2-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res446012363" previewtitle="Havana residents huddle in front of the Habana Libre hotel, trying to log onto the Internet."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Havana residents huddle in front of the Habana Libre hotel, trying to log onto the Internet." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/kahncuba--5--edit_custom-d28b46ce7c1fa4f28843f0b8da141f0a050631d2-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 442px; width: 600px;" title="Havana residents huddle in front of the Habana Libre hotel, trying to log onto the Internet. (Carrie Kahn/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The best place to see Cuba&#39;s Internet explosion is along the busy Havana thoroughfare known as La Rampa, or the Ramp.</p></div></div></div><p>Named for its sloping descent toward the sea, it is congested and loud. Still, crowds pack the sidewalks, office alcoves and driveways here to log on. They huddle within a few blocks of huge cell towers atop the Havana Libre luxury hotel. All eyes are glued to smartphones, tablets and laptops.</p><p>Raul Cuba, 41, types a lengthy Internet access code and password into his phone. He only learned how to log on a month ago.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;d never been on Facebook before and the first time I did, I got so excited. I started chatting with my family in Miami, in Italy and Spain,&quot; he says.</p><p>Until this summer, Internet access only was available to tourists and officials, but since then the Castro government has set up dozens of pay-as-you-go public Wi-Fi hotspots around the country. And last month, President Obama allowed U.S. companies to invest in the island&#39;s telecommunication industry.</p><div id="res446000716" previewtitle="Huge cell towers top Havana's Habana Libre luxury hotel, and locals gather nearby to take advantage of the Internet access."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Huge cell towers top Havana's Habana Libre luxury hotel, and locals gather nearby to take advantage of the Internet access." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/habana-libre-landov_custom-734f93c41b8f404043f1ebdfa6e7231c85b37e21-s600-c85.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 373px; width: 600px;" title="Huge cell towers top Havana's Habana Libre luxury hotel, and locals gather nearby to take advantage of the Internet access. (Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters/Landov)" /></div><div><p>But Cuba&#39;s public Wi-Fi remains out of most people&#39;s reach. An access card sold by the state phone company, ETECSA, costs about $2 for an hour of Internet use, while the average state salary in Cuba is about $20 a month. The lucky ones have relatives abroad sending money and devices back home &mdash; or they work in Cuba&#39;s tourist industry, earning tips in dollars.</p></div></div><p>Out on the Ramp, you can buy one of the Internet access cards for about $3 on Cuba&#39;s ubiquitous black market &mdash; more expensive, but it comes with technical assistance courtesy of Manuel Garcias, who&#39;s got a stack of cards for sale.</p><p>Asked where he gets the cards, he says, &quot;they come here and sell them to me &mdash; the husband or cousin of someone who works at ETECSA.&quot;</p><p><strong>&#39;The Rest Of Us With Nothing&#39;</strong></p><p>So far, only about 5 percent of Cubans can get online &mdash; one of the lowest Internet penetration rates in the world. And you don&#39;t have to go far to see those left off Cuba&#39;s Internet highway.</p><p>Just a few blocks down the Rampa, where the street dead-ends at Havana&#39;s picturesque Malecon seawall, is old-school Cuba &mdash; the original nighttime gathering spot for roving musicians, necking couples and revelers of all ages. There&#39;s barely a cell phone or laptop in sight.</p><p><img alt="Mari Jimenez, 53, uses an Internet access card sold by the state phone company." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/kahncuba--17--edit_custom-ea64ff4581ff321443e31bc733aecbf79ed74167-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 320px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Mari Jimenez, 53, uses an Internet access card sold by the state phone company. (Carrie Kahn/NPR)" /></p><p>Franc Bernal Gonzalez, 17, and some friends have the night off from their mandatory military service. Only two of them have cell phones &mdash; old, little ones, where the only thing they do is make a call.</p><div id="res446012093" previewtitle="Mari Jimenez, 53, uses an Internet access card sold by the state phone company."><div><p>&quot;In Cuba, we didn&#39;t used to see so many people with all this stuff and the rest of us with nothing,&quot; Bernal says. &quot;These differences started showing up a few years back, but have really grown bigger lately.&quot;</p></div></div><p>The government says it will boost the country&#39;s extremely low Internet access rate to 50 percent in the next five years, finances permitting &mdash; but hardline politics may cut into that goal. The No. 2 official in Cuba&#39;s Communist Party recently accused outsiders of taking advantage of greater Internet freedom to &quot;penetrate us and do ideological work for a new conquest.&quot;</p><p><strong>Video Chats And Beauty Tips</strong></p><p>Back on La Rampa, there&#39;s no evidence of political penetration or subversive web surfing. Nearly everyone here is video-chatting with relatives abroad.</p><p>&quot;My love! How are you, my love!&quot; exclaims Mari Jimenez, 53, reaching her son, who&#39;s driving in Miami.</p><div id="res446208657"><div>Jimenez just learned a month ago how to use her new iPhone 5, sent by her son. She has long, acrylic white nails &mdash; except on her index finger. &quot;It&#39;s much faster to use the phone without the nail,&quot; she says. &quot;I don&#39;t want to waste time or money.&quot; She&#39;ll just glue it back on when she gets home.</div></div><p>Meanwhile, 18-year-old Daniella Hidalgo is checking out makeup tips from a YouTube beauty guru named Yuya in Mexico City. Unfortunately, the signal isn&#39;t that good and she only gets to see a few of the tips before the video cuts out.</p><p>I ask Hidalgo if she visits news sites or anything political. No way, she says: &quot;I&#39;m paying for this, I&#39;m not going to waste my money on politics.&quot;</p><p>Jorge Bativia&#39;s been trying unsuccessfully for the past hour to video-chat with his girlfriend in Australia &mdash; whom he first met via an online chat &mdash; and is ready to give up.</p><p>Even so, he says, he&#39;s glad the Internet finally came to Cuba.</p><p>&quot;Even if [the government] wanted to take it back, they can&#39;t,&quot; he says. &quot;You can&#39;t keep people&#39;s eyes covered forever.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/10/06/445998527/internet-access-expands-in-cuba-for-those-who-can-afford-it?ft=nprml&amp;f=445998527" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 10:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/internet-access-expands-cuba-those-who-can-afford-it-113194 Comcast announces $10 Web access for low-income families http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-05/comcast-announces-10-web-access-low-income-families-90171 <p><p>Cable and Internet provider Comcast is launching a new initiative aimed at bridging the digital divide, offering discounted web access and home computers to families that meet income requirements.</p><p>The plan, called Internet Essentials, will be available wherever Comcast offers Internet services — which it currently does in 39 states. The company has launched websites in <a href="http://www.internetessentials.com/">English</a> and <a href="http://www.internetbasico.com/">Spanish</a> to promote the program.</p><p>As you may recall, Comcast <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/01/18/133029202/Comcast-Wins-FCC-Approval-For-NBC-Merger">acquired NBC Universal</a> earlier this year. In approving the merger, regulators also required the company to help low-income households get online. It seems that Comcast can afford the new program: when it reported earnings this week, its revenue had risen 51 percent, to $14.3 billion.</p><p>For <em>Newscast</em>, Sarah Gonzales from WLRN-Miami Herald reports:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>Under the initiative, families will get literacy training and Internet service for $9.95 a month (plus taxes). Hispanic and African-American communities are expected to benefit the most, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen says.</p><p>"When we look around the country, we see the disparities that exist," he says. "Quite frankly, people in lower-income communities, mostly people of color, have such limited access to broadband than people in wealthier communities."</p><p>The program is open to students in grades K-12. Texas, California, and Florida have the highest eligibility rates.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>Families will also receive a voucher allowing them to purchase a new computer for $149.99 (plus tax).</p><p><a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/04/2345083/comcast-launches-discounted-internet.html">The <em>Herald's</em> Laura Isensee</a> wrote that "For the 2011-12 school year, a family of four making $29,055 a year would qualify — about 60 percent of the 300,000-plus students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools."</p><p>A release from Comcast provides a list of requirements a household must meet to participate:</p><p><ul></p><p><li>Is located where Comcast offers Internet service;</li></p><p><li>Has at least one child eligible to receive a free school lunch under the NSLP;</li></p><p><li>(As an example, according to the Department of Agriculture, a household of three would have to make less than $25,000 a year in income);</li></p><p><li>Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days;</li></p><p><li>Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.</li></p><p></ul> <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. <img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1312559837?&gn=Comcast+Announces+%2410+Web+Access+For+Low-Income+Families&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=Technology,National+News,Internet,The+Two-Way,Media,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=139021923&c7=1020&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1020&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110805&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=127602971,127602855,125427775,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 10:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-05/comcast-announces-10-web-access-low-income-families-90171 The First 100: A look at how technology can transform Chicago http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-07/first-100-look-how-technology-can-transform-chicago-88825 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-07/3187207970_5e4673af9d_o.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised to create a more open and transparent government by making more data public. But how else can the Emanuel administration use technology to grow access-or even business- in the city? For the latest installment of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/first-100-rahm-emanuels-first-100-days-chicago-mayor"><em>The First 100</em></a>,<em> Eight Forty-Eight</em> looked at the Mayor’s connection to the tech world. <a href="http://www.ascentstage.com/about.html" target="_blank">John Tolva</a>, the city of Chicago’s Chief Technology Officer and<a href="http://www.chicagolandec.org/content/about-us/kevin-willer.asp" target="_blank"> Kevin Willer</a>, President and CEO of Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center spoke to <em>Eight Forty-Eight's </em>Richard Steele about Chicago's tech future.</p><p><em>Music Button: Scooby, "Scooby Riddim"</em></p></p> Thu, 07 Jul 2011 14:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-07/first-100-look-how-technology-can-transform-chicago-88825 The jobless traverse the digital divide http://www.wbez.org/story/akron/jobless-traverse-digital-divide <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//DigitalDividePic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When you talk about a digital divide, you&rsquo;re probably thinking of inner city kids who don&rsquo;t have ready access to the Internet. But there&rsquo;s another group that looks at the digital divide with a growing sense of urgency: unemployed workers. &nbsp;</p><p>Darlene Williams has been out of work since 2005. During that time, she feels like she&rsquo;s been left out of the digital revolution.</p><p>WILLIAMS: My computer skills as far as navigating on the Internet since I&rsquo;ve been off work have really really fallen by the wayside.</p><p>Williams lives in Englewood, on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side. She doesn&rsquo;t have a home computer. That means to actually apply for jobs, Williams has to depend on outside resources like the library or where I met her, at the Family Net Center. It&rsquo;s Auburn Gresham, one of Chicago&rsquo;s newest five Smart Communities. But Williams also worries that she just doesn&rsquo;t have the technological savvy you need these days to land a job.</p><p>DARLENE WILLIAMS: It&rsquo;s actually kind of intimidating! I find that my nieces 8 or 9 are just amazing on a computer. So when I&rsquo;m sitting there, interviewing, or I&rsquo;m contemplating going on an interview and I&rsquo;m sitting there with 22, 23-year-olds. I&rsquo;m like, 'Oh no!'. You don&rsquo;t stand a chance.</p><p>MOSSBERGER: We know even the kiosks at Target, places like that, low skilled jobs even, require applying online or in a kiosk.</p><p>Karen Mossberger is a public administration professor at University of Illinois at Chicago.</p><p>MOSSBERGER: People who don&rsquo;t have the basic skills to use technology are at a disadvantage for applying for jobs. <br /><br />People who don&rsquo;t lack those skills are also at a disadvantage when it comes to how much money they make &ndash; especially compared with coworkers who have the same level of formal education. Mossberger&rsquo;s done research that shows even among workers with a high school education, those who use the Internet at work on average make $111 more a week.</p><p>She sees digital competency as important not just for individuals, but also for communities and ultimately, the Midwest as a whole as the entire region transitions out of &ldquo;old economy&rdquo; jobs that don&rsquo;t use as much technology.</p><p>MOSSBERGER: I think the region has a challenge in terms of trying to fit into the digital economy.</p><p>HART: I&rsquo;m not real comfortable with doing it online. There a lot of things that stop you from getting through sometimes.</p><p>Desmond Hart has also been using the Auburn Gresham Family Net Center to hunt for work. He&rsquo;s 34, and been out of a job for two years. He was a carpenter, and he&rsquo;s worked as a nursing assistant. He also went back to school to be certified to work on heating and cooling systems.</p><p>He spends hours here, almost every day, using their computers to apply for jobs because like Darlene Williams, Hart also doesn&rsquo;t have home internet access. In Auburn Gresham, about 47 percent of residents have home Internet access. Compare that to 70 percent for the rest of Chicago.</p><p>The Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp. is hoping to improve that with its new Digital Literacy course. Jimmy Prude is its technology organizer.</p><p>PRUDE: Some of the things we realize people don&rsquo;t necessarily understand when they come into the everyday Digital coursework is how to manuever through the computer, how they understand their computer system, how do they get it work for them.</p><p>The class is funded by the Chicago Smart Communities program, which is getting federal stimulus money. Other states have similar initiatives, like the Connect your Community project. That&rsquo;s a $25 million multistate program that&rsquo;s trying to get four communities more plugged in: Detroit, Cleveland, Akron and Lorain, Ohio.</p><p>For the past six weeks, about a dozen people &ndash; including Darlene Williams &ndash; have been enrolled in first Everyday Digital Class in Auburn Gresham.</p><p>Students who qualify will receive a free laptop at the end of the program. About half the class is made up of seniors like Billye Wilson.</p><p>WILSON: Oh, yes. My son and my grandson often tell me: 'You need to get on the Information Superhighway,' and I say, 'It&rsquo;s going a bit too fast right now.'</p><p>Wilson&rsquo;s 62, and even though she&rsquo;s retired, she&rsquo;s still looking for work. She saw a job once for working for ComEd at home, but it required having a home computer &ndash; and some basic technology skills.</p><p>Now that she&rsquo;s finished the course, Wilson says she feels more comfortable jumping on that Highway.</p><p>WILSON: It was quite intimidating, getting on the computer, as far if you pushed this button, the world is coming to an end. It was quite intimidating. But I&rsquo;m finding it very enjoyable.&nbsp;Now I&rsquo;m able to go to the library surf the web. Who knows, maybe soon I&rsquo;ll be able to mount that big web, you know, ride on into shore.</p><p><br /><strong>Changing Gears is a public media project looking at the reinvention of the industrial Midwest.</strong></p><p>&nbsp;<em>A correction has been made to this story. <br /><br />Correction: An earlier version of this transcript misspelled the Englewood and Auburn-Gresham neighborhoods.</em></p></p> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 19:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/akron/jobless-traverse-digital-divide