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Oakland Campaign Brings Internet Access To Seniors, Low-Income Families

OAKLAND (KCBS) _ A campaign launched in Oakland Thursday looks to close the digital divide by getting more low-income families and seniors hooked up to the Internet. The city wants to make sure everyone has access to a free or low-cost computer.

KCBS' Holly Quan Reports:

Bruce Buckelew of Oakland Technology Exchange West, which is a nonprofit computer refurbishing group, is part of a consortium looking to leverage their buying power to get cheaper broadband access into Oakland's housing projects. The cheapest individual plan Buckelew said he's found so far is $14.95 per month.

"Part of it is to convince people who are not adopters of the Internet that it's worth the $14.94 to get started," said Buckelew. "Quite often those same people pay a lot more than that for their cable TV, and the Internet is becoming much more important in many ways than cable TV is."

According to the California Emerging Technology Fund, half of all Latino families, and half of all low-income houses don't have Internet access.

Ellen Muhammad runs Oakland's Senior Digital Inclusion Project, which gives seniors free tutorials. She said it doesn't take much to show them the power of the Internet.

"You can go and apply for Social Security online. They can look up Medicare benefits or check out what movies they want to see this weekend," said Muhammad. "And they can see their grandkids on Facebook. At last, the mystery is solved."

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