Originally Appeared in Project Goal
January 12, 2016
During the last few days of 2015, I was pleased to hear the announcement from Charter Communications that it intends to offer high-speed, low-cost broadband connectivity to seniors and low-income consumers. It will be available within six months of the close of its pending merger with Time Warner Cable (and the acquisition of Bright House Communications). This new program will join similar offerings from other broadband service providers such as Comcast and CenturyLink, and one soon to be offered by AT&T.
These programs are particularly important for low-income older adults. According to a Pew survey released in December 2015, currently only 45% of adults age 65 and older have a broadband connection at home. Among older adults who are low-income, the broadband adoption rates drop significantly.
These low adoption stats are particularly troubling because few populations stand to benefit from the Internet more than older adults. Online shopping may be a convenience for many of us, but it’s a lifeline for older adults with mobility challenges. For the aging population more prone to social isolation, connections forged through social media can drastically improve quality of life. And Internet-enabled advances in telemedicine can enhance health and wellness and allow older individuals to “age in place” at home, rather than in assisted-living facilities.