The City of San Antonio and Bexar County leaders want to evaluate Internet access around the area.
SAN ANTONIO — The pandemic put a spotlight on the digital divide within Bexar County and San Antonio. According to a survey released in 2020, 20 percent of households within the area don’t have Internet access.
The city is launching a second survey to get a better understanding of how the pandemic and digital access around the city impacted business owners and seniors.
The announcement was made at the Mission Branch Library on San Antonio’s southside, within one of the areas where the digital divide is large.
“We do have a lot of people in this particular area that need the library for business purposes, for school purposes, they don’t always have internet access at home,” Cynthia Cruz, Librarian at Mission Branch Library told KENS 5.
Cruz knows the library is key in addressing the community’s needs.
During the height of COVID, Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran says she experienced internet issues firsthand and had to go with an expensive provider, something her constituents may not be able to do.
“It’s been a hotspot and it’s been one of two providers they’ve gone back and forth from. Because depending on what their needs are at home, one may provide more than the other,” Councilwoman Viagran told KENS 5.
The Digital Inclusion Survey will help identify those who are disconnected. According to results from the last survey released in 2020, southern portions of Bexar County had a higher percentage of homes without access to broadband service.
Bexar County and the city have leveraged $25 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for broadband access, but the city and county have to convince Internet service providers to build the infrastructure.
“We’re trying to incentivize internet providers to do the work, we’re looking to execute that over the next 9 to 18 months, it’s not going to be a quick turnaround,” Brian Dillard, Chief Innovation Officer with the city told KENS 5.
In the meantime, Cruz says she is happy to help her community get access to services it needs, whether its via the Internet or getting entertained through books.
”I know the library is part of that driving force to meet those needs,” Cruz said.
The survey will be available through April 30.