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SALT LAKE CITY— At a joint press conference Saturday with Google Fiber, Salt Lake City, Utah Nonprofit Housing Corporation and Mayor Jackie Biskupski, individuals who once struggled to access the internet learned how that would no longer be a problem.
Two such individuals, Bracken Woolard and Julia Foley attended the event.
Woolard motioned to the young woman next to him and said “Yeah, I used to steal Julia’s internet.”
The Sept. 24 press conference featured the unveiling of the first Gigabit Communities Program at Lorna Doone Apartments.
Both Woolard and Foley were residents of Lorna Doone Apartments in downtown Salt Lake City, and until recently, struggled to access the internet.
UNPHC runs Lorna Doone Apartments, as well as hundreds of other units in the Salt Lake area.
“It’s important for our residents to get online, but that still costs $30-$70 each month," said Marci Milligan, UNPHC Fund Development Officer.
Foley said the cost can be prohibitive for residents like herself, who has a young child and is getting her bachelor’s degree. She said the free and faster internet helps her greatly.
“Americans have some of the most expensive broadband in the world, but thanks to Google Fiber, today 100 apartments here at the Lorna Doone will have internet speeds to rival their neighbors in central city." — Mayor Jackie Biskupski
“This is a part of the Google Fiber Gigabit Communities program, which brings no cost, super fast internet to residents in Fiber cities who need it the most,” said Jacob Brace, Google Fiber's Community Impact Manager in Salt Lake City.
Brace said that Google Fiber, the Utah Nonprofit Housing Corporation and other partners “are working to bring more people online where they live, so they can start to utilize the internet in their daily lives.”
The lack of internet access, or access at high speeds, is often referred to as the Digital Divide, Mayor Biskupski said.
“Americans have some of the most expensive broadband in the world, but thanks to Google Fiber, today 100 apartments here at the Lorna Doone will have internet speeds to rival their neighbors in central city,” Biskupski said.
Stacy Vincent, the NTEN Digital Inclusion Fellow with UNPHC said the digital divide affects people's lives.
“If our residents aren’t online, they are missing out," Vincent said. "This is a quality of life issue and bringing high speed internet, computers, computer skills training to our residents has the power to improve their quality of life now and far into the future.”
UNHC has a goal to reach 300 with new digital literacy programs by next summer.
"Over the next year we look to support the digital inclusion fellowship and NTEN to close the digital divide,” Brace said.
Bracken Woolard doesn’t have to steal Julia’s internet anymore; he has his own, and so do many other residents in Salt Lake City.