AOL chipping at digital divide
- By Natasha Haubold
- Mar 02, 2000
In an effort to bring the Internet to all Americans, America Online. has
launched several programs to increase accessibility in rural and low-income
During a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee meeting
Thursday, AOL Chairman Steve Case, announced that his company is working
with government agencies to close the digital divide — the widening gap
between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not.
Rural areas tend to be hard hit by the digital divide because of the
lack of Internet service providers, computers and basic phone line accessibility,
so AOL is working with the National Center for Small Communities to close
the gap. Through the AOL Rural Telecommunications Awards, communities using
information technology to revitalize towns with less than 10,000 people
may be eligible for a $10,000 grant.
Last year, four communities received awards. This year five communities
each will receive $10,000 grants, and 10 towns will receive $2,000 grants.
Winners will be announced in October. Last year's winners included:
* Sylvester, Ga., population less than 8,000, for its Free Net system that
used by government, educational institutions, community businesses and private
citizens. Volunteers maintain the free countywide network.
* Maddock, N.D., population less than 1,000, for its development of the
Rural Business and Technology Center to provide a shared telecommunications
* Questa, N.M., population less than 3,000, for its Wireless Demonstration
Project that provided wireless telecom services to rural mountain areas.
* McDermitt, Nev., population less than 1,000, for its Humboldt Internet
Provider project that gives Internet service to the community. The project
was launched and maintained by McDermitt High School students.
Also, AOL is launching PowerUp, a public/private partnership to build community
technology centers where young people can learn IT skills to compete in
the business market.
AOL also is working with the National School Board Association to provide
Internet access to every school and to award grants to K-12 teachers who
use the Internet innovatively.
More information on AOL digital divide projects is available at www.aolfoundation.org.