Access to High Speed Internet Still Sought by Nashville Residents

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l-r; Kim Sasser-Hayden, Comcast; Terry Vo, Comcast; Clifton Harris, Urban League president; Christiane Buggs, MNPS school board member; and Pastor Barton Harris, Westwood Missionary Baptist Church

NASHVILLE, TN — Access to high speed internet has been, for many Nashville residents, the conversation topic that doesn’t seem to go away. For the past several years, in many communities around town, efforts by internet service providers to bring gigabyte speed internet to more homes and businesses in Nashville has been routinely discussed in the media and among residents.

Despite this major broadband expansion, there remain many neighborhoods in Nashville where the benefits of high speed Internet service are not as well known. As a result, these communities are at risk of falling behind, even as significant progress has been made to address the city’s digital divide.

But the good news for Nashville is that an effort is underway to raise awareness and provide resources in these communities. Thanks to a coalition that includes members of the local faith community, dedicated corporate partners, and other community organizations, there is a renewed commitment to knock down these barriers.

“In Nashville, we have faced the challenge of being a city of haves and have nots,” notes Latrisha Jemison, Board Chair of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.

“With respect to internet access, the historical trend has been no different. Fortunately, in recent years, we have seen a good faith effort by internet providers to bring service to these communities. But even with the infrastructure in place, the cost can prove to be too much. That’s why the cooperation we’re seeing among leaders in the community is so promising, and will go a long way to ensure every Nashville resident recognizes how they can find affordable and reliable access to the internet.”

“I am encouraged that Comcast and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee have partnered to open three new computer labs in traditionally underserved areas, including one that opened on March 5th at Westwood Baptist Church.”

Comcast has also partnered with Conexion Americas to create a new computer lab at Casa Azafran, which is scheduled to open its doors on March 8th.

“The lab we’re opening is one small step, but when you see it as part of our larger goals, it’s important for the future of our community and the entire city,” said Pastor Barton Elliott Harris of Westwood Baptist Church.  “It is clear that many in my congregation have valid concerns about affordability and accessibility.”

“For this reason, I’m particularly grateful that we have dedicated partners in Nashville – such as the Urban League, Comcast, and others – so that the families who need internet access will know their options and have the ability to get service.”

“As a long-time partner with the city, we’re proud to honor our commitment to bring high speed internet to the vast majority of neighborhoods across Nashville,” said Valerie Gillespie, Area Vice President for Comcast.  “Through our Internet Essentials program, we offer discounted service and computer equipment, as well as digital literacy training, to customers in Nashville and across Tennessee as part of our effort to bridge the divide.”

“What we’ve seen in recent months – groups from all walks of life coming together to tackle this problem – is heartwarming,” says Pastor Breonus M. Mitchell, Sr., of Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church. “We must continue to build on this progress, and need more individuals and organizations to get involved and make real commitments. That is the key for our future. I believe, if we continue to come together and work hand in hand, we can achieve our goal of bridging the digital divide.”

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