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00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770410000PublicSource is an independent, nonprofit news group that focuses on original investigative reporting about critical issues facing Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania region. It was launched to undertake in-depth reporting in the public interest.PublicSource is a content partner of 90.5 WESA.More about PublicSource here.

At Least 1.1 Million Pennsylvania Homes Lack Internet Access

Molly Duerig
James Allen, 57, uses the computers at the East Liberty branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to search for jobs because he doesn’t have Internet at home. Here, on June 22, Allen was scouring Craigslist for jobs as a delivery truck driver.";

President Barack Obama called the Internet “one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.” However, for many Americans, like Tracy Emerson of West Philadelphia, full connectivity remains out of reach.

Emerson is a 47-year-old single mother of two who canceled her home Internet service when she lost her job at a daycare center. “I couldn’t afford it. They are always changing their packages,” said Emerson who had a bundle, “and it’s never less; it’s always more.”

Emerson has since relied on her smartphone for an Internet connection, but she and her teenage daughter had to find other options to complete schoolwork.

“Even if I go to the Laundromat, I bring my computer so I can do my homework,” said Emerson, who is working on a bachelor’s degree in health care administration.

At least 55 million Americans like Emerson lack reliable broadband Internet access at home — an issue that has swiftly moved from a nuisance to an impediment. In Pennsylvania, nearly one quarter of households lack Internet entirely, according to 2013 Census data.

Read more of this report at the website of our partner PublicSource.