Resources, Updates, and Suggestions for staying connected during COVID-19
Since March, the internet has become a new “Basic Need” for almost everyone in our communities. Whether you’ve worked or schooled from home, tried to order groceries from the local store, Zoomed into your local Select Board meeting, met friends for “Virtual Coffee”, or accessed telehealthcare services, you likely now depending on reliable, high-enough-speed internet to help life go on during the pandemic.
Our work with the Central Vermont Family Connectivity Project has brought us face to face with what happens when the lack of reliable internet does not offer the continuity that most of us enjoy from regular internet access. It means that kids can’t get the care they need, expecting moms can’t get the healthcare they, kids in foster care can’t see their biological parents… it means that life is even more drastically different than it is for those of us who have internet access (like you do if you’re reading this blog!).
Knowing this struggle is not going away, I’ve put together a list of potential resources anyone can use to bridge the internet gap. Let’s be clear, this information is meant to give you options if you can’t afford cable, or the DSL line ends right before your house, or the back road you live on is nowhere near high-speed internet territory. These are temporary solutions at best, and it is our hope that the many projects currently in the works in our rural region are able to help solve these problems in the long term! For now, try these:
There’s no high-speed internet at my house
We hear you, and the Department of Public Service want to know where you are, so put yourself on the map! https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/interactive-broadband-map
Try a public wifi hot spots near you: https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/wi-fi-hot-spot-project
If the lines are close, the Line Assistance Customer Assistance Program (LECAP) provides funding to extend broadband to homes (there are limits) https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/vermont-covid-19-line-extension-customer-assistance-program
Do you get cell service? If so, find a cell provider who supports using your phone as an internet hotspot (we’ve tried Visible but there are others out there)
If it is difficult for you to afford high-speed internet, check out these programs to see if you might qualify. If you are not sure, call them anyway:
Lifeline Telecommunications Program https://publicservice.vermont.gov/publications-resources/consumers/lifeline
Comcast Internet Essentials https://www.internetessentials.com/
Spectrum Internet Assist https://www.spectrum.com/browse/content/spectrum-internet-assist