The meeting, which featured Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash, Wilson County Commissioner Dan Walker, state Rep. Mark Pody and senior center assistant director Teresa Botts, was moderated by officials with Charter Communications.
Charter representatives were on hand to talk more about Spectrum Internet Assist, a new service from the company that aims to provide poor children and seniors with affordable broadband access. Those who meet certain requirements, including families with children on free lunch programs and seniors on supplemental security income, are able to get broadband internet for $14.99 per month.
“We’re trying to make sure everybody has access to technology and information, and close the digital divide between those who have access and those who don’t,” said Jason Keller, Charter’s senior director of government relations in Tennessee and Kentucky.
“We’re all about the same age,” Ash said to the seniors who attended the meeting. “Living on a fixed income, it’s not easy, and [broadband internet] is something we need.”
Walker said the government in most places view high-speed internet as a “luxury item,” rather than a utility.
“There is legislature in some states making broadband a utility,” Walker said.
Pody said he is amazed at how far technology has come in a short time – and how much it will likely continue to change in the coming years.
“We got on FaceTime, and it was a real-time video chat; you’re talking to someone and seeing them in real time,” Pody said. “In the next 10 years, I think it’s going to change even more dramatically.”
Botts said she has seen many people at the senior center using WiFi internet services.
“We used to have computer classes, but now everyone is more concerned with using their smartphones and tablets,” Botts said.
After the presentation, one person in the crowd asked why he couldn’t get a senior discount on his broadband access, even without qualifying for Spectrum Internet Assist. Keller did not have an answer, but said he would pass the suggestion along to higher-ups within the company.
For more information about Spectrum Internet Assist, visit spectrum.com/browse/content/spectrum-internet-assist.html.