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Closing the Digital Divide

The pandemic put to rest any lingering doubts of highspeed internet’s status as essential infrastructure. It also laid bare the repercussions of a digital divide and elevated the importance of increasing equitable access to broadband service in a society that requires connectivity. The Detroiter asked key telecommunications leaders to opine on how best to close the digital divide moving forward. 

What is the key to ensuring equitable access to broadband across Southeast Michigan?

“Digital access and adoption are different challenges. Robust network infrastructure and reliable service are widely available across Southeast Michigan, so the primary challenge lies in broadband adoption. The Affordable Connectivity Program eliminates cost as a digital adoption barrier. As a community, we need to focus on getting devices and digital skills training to those who will benefit.” 

-Tim Collins, Senior Vice President, Heartland Region, Comcast


“Leading by example, Verizon knows bridging the digital divide requires collaboration with government to develop affordable, equitable and sustainable broadband solutions; and community investments – as demonstrated by Verizon’s local partnerships with Mercy Education Project, empowering women and girls; JOURNI, equipping youth through tech; and Connect 313, supporting digital inclusion. This vision aligns with our Citizen Verizon Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.” 

-Brianna Ellison, Director, Community Engagement, Verizon


“We believe broadband connectivity is essential. Addressing affordability, access and adoption is at the heart of our commitment to creating connection. By working together with government and other industry leaders, we can expand affordable access and increase broadband adoption in communities across Southeast Michigan, to help every American have an opportunity to succeed.” 

-David Lewis, President, AT&T Michigan


“Truly bridging the digital divide in Detroit requires a paradigm shift. Only through expert leadership, community-driven prioritization and deep collaboration can we ensure equitable access to the internet, technology and digital literacy training Detroiters need to thrive in this interconnected world. We are proud that the Connect 313 Fund is setting the bar for this type of partnership and innovation.” 

-Laura Grannemann, Vice President, Rocket Community Fund; Executive Director, Gilbert Family Foundation