Utah Voters 50+ Support Increased Access to Internet
This article about internet access is presented by AARP Utah.
Recently, AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50+ about how they use the internet. Their questions asked if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it. “Access to high-speed internet during the Covid-19 pandemic meaningfully affected the way that older adults throughout the state accessed medical care, shopped for groceries, completed their work, and connected with their families,” said AARP Utah State Director Alan Ormsby. “However, the pandemic also highlighted the disparities for those without access or those who cannot afford it.”
Continue reading for more information about the report and programs to help you find affordable internet in Utah.
Overview of data
In Utah, 92% of registered voters ages 50+ regularly use the Internet. Of those, 81% use it to make purchases online, 78% for health-related reasons, 73% to pay bills, 70% to stream TV shows or movies, and 69% for social media.
Barriers to private internet access
68% of Utahns from the data set say their home internet service is expensive.
More people who live in rural areas say that it is a challenge to access the internet in their community. For people who live in less populated areas, 45% say it is a problem, as opposed to people who live in urban areas, of which 37% say it is a problem.
Most Utah voters aged 50 plus support policies to expand high-speed internet. This includes building out the framework in less populated areas, making it cheaper for people with low incomes, and ensuring all Utahns have free access at public places.
“The internet has become a lifeline to all Americans, and access to it has become a public health issue. In Utah, our most vulnerable residents have been the population most in need of this service. It’s time that we bridge that digital divide and ensure that older Utahns are adequately prepared in the event of another national crisis,” concluded Ormsby.
Voters’ priorities for broadband internet access
Most voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who has helped make affordable high-speed internet available to all Utahns, regardless of where they live. Many Utah voters 50+ are more likely to vote for a candidate who has helped increase access to affordable high-speed internet, at 57%.
Regardless of the political party, Utah voters mostly agree on the state’s priorities when determining how to spend funds for high-speed internet. Those include the following measures.
Build infrastructure in rural areas and other underserved areas to ensure that high-speed internet is available for all.
- Republicans: 84%
- Democrats: 96%
- Independents: 89%
Make high-speed Internet more affordable for low-income people so that more families can afford high-speed internet at home.
- Republicans: 83%
- Democrats: 95%
- Independents: 84%
Ensure that all Utahns have free access to high-speed internet at public places such as libraries, community centers, and similar locations.
- Republicans: 86%
- Democrats: 91%
- Independents: 84%
Increase digital literacy so that people less familiar with broadband internet access and technology can learn more about what it has to offer and how to use it.
- Republicans: 76%
- Democrats: 87%
- Independents: 77%
Federal affordable connectivity program
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a US government program run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices like laptops or tablets.
If your household is eligible for this service, you could receive:
- Up to a $30/month discount on your internet service
- Up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)
- A low-cost service plan that may be fully covered through the ACP*
For more information, visit the Affordable Connectivity Program’s website.
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