Earthlink Helps T.E.A.C.H. Partners How To Eliminate The Digital Divide
ATLANTA, March 1st, 2007—EarthLink (NASDAQ: ELNK) today announced the launch of the EarthLink Digital Future ProgramSM, which is designed specifically to promote digital inclusion among citizens in municipalities across the country. In conjunction with the program’s formal launching, the company also announced its first pilot at the Featherfist Homeless Shelter in Chicago, where a computer lab with Wi-Fi service has been established - the first of 17 to be established at homeless shelters throughout the city.
Digital inclusion is a key tenet in the booming growth of the municipal Wi-Fi marketplace. Cities, non-profits and companies are coming together to build wireless networks for citywide Internet service and to help people who have not had access to broadband - either due to availability or affordability - get access to the hardware, software, training, support and service necessary to take advantage of high-speed Internet access.
“To EarthLink its clear and its simple - benefiting from what broadband offers shouldn’t be based on the zip code you live in or your ability to pay for a myriad of overpriced services from one or two providers - that’s why EarthLink has launched our Digital Future Program to help individuals and families cross the digital divide,” said Donald Berryman, president of EarthLink’s municipal networks unit. “We believe this program can make a difference because pervasive, citywide municipal wireless networks offer a tremendous opportunity for companies and non-profits to come together with cities to help reduce the gap between those who currently benefit from technology and those who do not.”
EarthLink Digital Future Program’s T.E.A.C.H. Approach
The Digital Future Program’s T.E.A.C.H. methodology enables partners to create and execute programs that are replicable and relevant for all metropolitan communities across the country, yet it is flexible enough to be customized to meet local needs and requirements.
The five areas of T.E.A.C.H. are:
* T.raining: EarthLink will help individuals and organizations develop the proper skills to fully utilize the company’s Wi-Fi networks to maximize a user’s Internet experience. It helps local groups develop and distribute local and online training guides and seminars, and also seeks to identify other like-minded groups to become involved;
* E.ducation: Understanding technology is paramount to a child’s education today. That’s why reaching school-aged children at various grade levels is a high priority for the Program and its potential partners. Students are one of the heaviest user segments of the Internet and have the most to gain from the integration of Wi-Fi into their lives. EarthLink’s commitment to education includes providing discounted access as well as programs for educators;
* A.ccess: EarthLink’s most valuable contribution to the program is also what we do best - delivering reliable, award-winning Internet access. The company will help cities provide affordable access, as well as, free service in designated public areas;
* C.ontent: EarthLink is developing a portal to serve as a landing page that includes trusted and valuable content sources and links for new users;
* H.ardware: EarthLink will work with partners to identify resources that can help secure discounted computer hardware for financially disadvantaged residents. Additionally, EarthLink will work with these and other partners to help fund the cost of purchasing Wi-Fi modems for those that cannot do so on their own.
The Program Kicks Off With Chicago Pilot
The first T.E.A.C.H. pilot will be unwired today at Chicago’s Featherfist homeless children’s center, the first of 17 such centers that the ISP, Blackwell Consulting Services (http://www.bcsinc.com) and Computers For Schools (http://www.pcsforschools.org/) will provide hardware for and then ’Wi-Fi enable’ over the next two months throughout greater metropolitan Chicago. Further, the Chicago Public Schools will provide on-site training at all centers through their Homeless Education Department.
Executives from EarthLink, Blackwell Consulting Services and Computers For Schools will lead Chief Executive Officer for Chicago Public Schools Arne Duncan, 7th Ward Alderman Darcel Beavers, 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino and 14th Ward Alderman Edward Burke through a walk through of the new computer center and how the technology works today at 2 pm. CST.
“Digital inclusion is key to helping our students graduate from high school prepared to receive a college education, accept a good job, and compete in the global economy,” said Arne Duncan, chief executive officer, Chicago Public Schools.
“Digital inclusion is paramount to the growth of our communities. As a technology service provider, Blackwell Consulting Services enables a diverse set of customers to achieve business results through the use of technology,” said Pamela Blackwell, president and chief operating officer, Blackwell Consulting Services. “With this initiative, we are now able to partner with EarthLink to expand our reach to those who need to capitalize on the use of technology the most, our citizens.”
“The Computer for Homes Program at PC Rebuilders and Recyclers is proud to support this effort with the hardware and equipment to help eliminate the digital divide,” said Willie Cade, chief executive officer of PC Rebuilders and Recyclers. “All students, regardless of their circumstances, need to have access to computers and broadband services. This program truly enables these children to experience everything the Internet has to offer.”
Community Involvement Key To EarthLink Municipal Networks
EarthLink has had success working with cities and supporting local programs that empower digital inclusion in markets where the company is already building out networks. Two such examples include Philadelphia, PA and Anaheim, CA where EarthLink is working closely with both ’Wireless Philadelphia’ and the Anaheim Mayor’s TechScholar Program.
“The main goal of the Wireless Philadelphia initiative is ’digital inclusion.’ Beyond the many commercial and retail benefits the new network will bring to our City and its residents, it is EarthLink’s extraordinary commitment to digital inclusion that is enabling us to build toward our vision of ’The Entire City Connected’,” said Greg Goldman, Chief Executive Officer, Wireless Philadelphia. “EarthLink is our trusted partner, a company that cares about people as much as profits, and a resource that is enhancing employment, education and life opportunities through technology for thousands of families in Philadelphia.”
“The Mayor’s Tech Scholar program is Anaheim’s way of making sure that the next generation of residents are ready to meet the challenges of the technologically advanced world where they will be competing,” said Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle. “As the City’s municipal Wi-Fi partner, innovator and implementer, EarthLink understands how important the success of those high-school students are to Anaheim, and to me personally, and has been an active participant in the program.”
EarthLink is a market leader in the deployment of citywide, municipal wireless networks. The company has major Wi-Fi initiatives underway in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Alexandria, VA and Milpitas and Anaheim, California. It is also finalizing agreements with the cities of St. Petersburg, FL; Atlanta, GA; Houston, TX and Pasadena and San Francisco, California.
Wi-Fi is short for wireless fidelity. It enables a person to connect his or her Wi-Fi enabled computer to the Internet without a traditional ’wire’ connection. For more information on EarthLink’s Municipal Networks business unit, please go to http://www.earthlink.net/muni.
For more information on EarthLink Municipal Network’s Digital Future program, please contact the company at email@example.com or access the website at http://www.earthlink.net/about/muni/digitalfuture/.
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