Forum highlights free and low-cost internet options in Chattanooga

Hamilton County residents can learn about low- and no-cost internet options during a forum from noon to 4 p.m. Friday at the Chattanooga Public Library.

Through a partnership with the nonprofit Enterprise Center, the downtown library branch will host on-site info sessions about the Affordable Connectivity Program and HCS EdConnect, powered by EPB.

HCS EdConnect is designed to bridge the digital divide and provide free home Wi-Fi year-round to every qualified family with a student who qualifies for the federal lunch program. HCS EdConnect offers high speed internet access to the more than 30,000 eligible students in Hamilton County Schools, at no charge to families.

Additionally, households earning 200% or less of the federal poverty rate who aren't signed up with HCS may get a discounted high-speed internet service from EPB for $27.99 a month through the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program in Chattanooga.

The federal poverty level is an annual income $14,580 or less for an individual, $19,720 for a family of two, $24,860 for a family of three, and $30,000 for a family of four. For federal poverty level income figures for larger families, visit healthcare.gov.

"Whether you're a Hamilton County Schools student who qualifies for HCS EdConnect and no-cost internet or an adult who wants to know about low-cost options through the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program, we'll be able to help direct you to the best options," Enterprise Center Connectivity Ambassador Micah Chapman said in an announcement of Friday's event. "We're asking the public to help us spread the word to your neighbors, co-workers, family and friends so we can keep community members connected."

Friday's forum will explain the internet service options as part of Chattanooga's participation in the Digital Inclusion Week. Anyone interested in learning more can stop by the forum or email micah@techgoeshomecha.org.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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