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The Digital Divide in The City of Brotherly Love

In the heart of Philadelphia, a city renowned for its rich history and vibrant culture, lies a digital divide, threatening to undermine the promise of equal opportunity for its residents. According to the “Connecting Philadelphia” report, while 84% of households have wired, high-speed broadband, a significant 16%—over 96,000 households—remain without this essential service at home. This digital exclusion is not evenly distributed; rather, it disproportionately impacts the city’s most vulnerable residents.

The report reveals that only 71% of households earning under $20,000 annually have broadband subscriptions, compared to their higher-income counterparts. This gap in affordable internet in Philadelphia is even more pronounced when examining device ownership, with a mere 63% of low-income households possessing a working device—a critical tool for engaging in online learning, job applications, and telehealth services.

Additionally, the digital divide cuts along racial lines. While 88% of white households have broadband subscriptions, only 82% of black households and 77% of Hispanic households can say the same. For Spanish-speaking households, the gap widens even further, where just 67% have a broadband subscription and a staggeringly low 58% own a working device.

The consequences of not having access to devices and low-cost internet in Philadelphia are extensive. With a 27-percentage point gap in labor force participation between workers with and without an at-home broadband computer, digital exclusion directly impacts economic opportunity. For K-12 students, lack of reliable internet and device access can hinder educational attainment, perpetuating cycles of disadvantage. And for seniors, who have a broadband adoption rate of just 67%, the divide can lead to social isolation and reduced access to critical services.

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The Need for Affordable Internet in Philadelphia

These statistics paint a picture of a city where digital equity is not yet a reality. The “Connecting Philadelphia” report estimates that 33% of Philadelphians are “subscription vulnerable,” facing barriers such as affordability, housing insecurity, and limited digital literacy. In fact, 42% of those without internet cited the cost of service or devices as the primary barrier, with 75% of low-income residents indicating that over $20/month for internet would be too high.

In light of these findings, it is clear that promoting digital equity in Philadelphia is a fundamental necessity, not simply convenience. Bridging the digital divide is essential for ensuring equal access to education, employment, healthcare, and social connection. And central to this effort is the provision of reliable, affordable internet options.

While Philadelphia is home to a number of low-cost internet service providers, finding a plan that is both accessible and affordable can be a daunting task, particularly for those already grappling with economic hardship. Low-income families, seniors on fixed incomes, and residents of under-served neighborhoods often face a complex web of barriers, from high monthly costs and equipment fees to limited infrastructure and digital literacy challenges.

Low-Cost Internet Options in Philadelphia

Navigating the locally and nationally available service providers in search of an affordable internet plan is an overwhelming task, particularly for those already burdened by economic hardship. However, amidst the many options, there are several providers that offer plans designed to bridge the digital divide.

Astound Broadband


  • The cheapest option at $20/month for 300 Mbps, making it one of the most affordable high-speed internet plans for low-income households in Philadelphia.
  • 300 Mbps is a reasonable speed for most online activities like streaming, gaming, and remote work/learning for a single household.


  • The low introductory pricing is only for the first year, after which the cost increases significantly, potentially becoming unaffordable for those on limited incomes.
  • Service is only available in certain areas of Philadelphia, limiting access for some low-income neighborhoods.



  • Wide availability throughout Philadelphia, increasing chances of access for low-income areas.
  • Relatively affordable starter plan at $25/month for 200 Mbps, suitable for basic internet needs.


  • While cheaper upfront, the plans come with added costs like equipment rental fees and potential data cap overages that can strain tight budgets.
  • Introductory pricing only lasts for the first year before rates increase, making it less affordable long-term.
  • 200 Mbps may not be enough speed for households with multiple users or bandwidth-heavy activities.



  • No contracts, data caps, or equipment fees provide flexibility and predictable costs for those with variable incomes.
  • Depending on location, some low-income areas may get high speeds up to 500 Mbps.


  • At $50/month, the starting price is relatively high for low-income households compared to other options.
  • Speeds can vary significantly by location, with minimum speeds of only 25 Mbps in some areas, inadequate for modern internet usage.

Verizon 5G Home


  • Fast speeds up to 1 Gbps in some areas can support households with multiple users and devices.
  • No data caps or equipment rental fees help keep costs predictable.


  • Limited availability of 5G home internet currently, excluding many low-income neighborhoods.
  • Requires an existing Verizon mobile plan to get the lowest pricing of $35/month, which adds to the overall cost burden.

While these providers offer glimmers of hope in the quest for affordable internet in Philadelphia, it’s clear that gaps remain. Low-income families, seniors on fixed incomes, and residents of underserved neighborhoods still face significant barriers to access, from prohibitive costs to limited infrastructure. Bridging the digital divide will require more than piecemeal solutions. It demands a comprehensive, community-driven approach that addresses affordability, availability, and digital literacy.

This is where organizations like Human-I-T step in, offering comprehensive solutions for those most impacted by the digital divide. With a mission rooted in the belief that access to technology is a fundamental right, Human-I-T is working tirelessly to connect underserved communities to the digital resources they need to thrive.

Unlocking Digital Equity Through Human-I-T

At the forefront of this mission is Human-I-T’s innovative Gold Membership program, a groundbreaking initiative designed to empower low-income households with the tools they need to bridge the digital divide. This program, completely free to join for eligible participants, opens the door to a world of affordable internet access and discounted devices, ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital age.

Device Access and Affordable Internet for Philadelphia Residents

For Gold Members, Human-I-T offers a game-changing internet plan that shatters the barriers of cost and accessibility. At just $14.99 per month, members can enjoy unlimited 4G LTE connectivity through the Franklin T10 mobile hotspot, a powerful device that allows up to 10 devices to connect simultaneously. This means that an entire household can benefit from reliable, high-speed internet access, transforming the way they learn, work, and connect with the world.

The impact of this low-cost internet plan cannot be overstated. For a struggling family, $14.99 per month can mean the difference between having access to vital online resources and being cut off from opportunity. It can enable a student to complete their homework, a job-seeker to apply for positions online, or a senior to connect with telemedicine services. By providing this lifeline, Human-I-T is not just closing the digital divide and opening the door to a brighter future for those who may not feel they have one.

But Human-I-T’s commitment to digital equity extends beyond affordable internet access. The organization recognizes that true digital inclusion requires access to devices as well. That’s why Gold Membership also provides discounted devices, ensuring that low-income households have the tools they need to make the most of their internet connection. Whether it’s a laptop for a student, a tablet for a senior, or a smartphone for a job-seeker, Human-I-T is working to put the power of technology into the hands of those who need it most.

A Comprehensive Approach to Digital Inclusion

Through its Gold Membership program, Human-I-T is creating a new model for digital inclusion—one that is rooted in the belief that access to technology is not a luxury, but a fundamental right. By providing affordable internet in Philadelphia and beyond, discounted devices for those who need them, and the support needed to use them effectively, Human-I-T is empowering communities across the nation to break the cycle of poverty, close the opportunity gap, and build a more equitable future.

The work of digital equity is not a solo endeavor, however. It requires the collective efforts of organizations, policymakers, and individuals alike. That’s why Human-I-T is not just providing services, but also building partnerships and advocating for change. By working with schools, libraries, community centers, and other local organizations, Human-I-T is creating a network of support that can reach even the most underserved populations.

For those who are ready to take the first step towards digital equity, the path to Gold Membership is designed to be as accessible as possible. The application process is simple and straightforward, with a focus on breaking down barriers, not creating them.

How to Get Started with Human-I-T

The Application Process

1. Submit basic online application. Interested individuals start by providing basic information through an online form (found below), much like signing up for any other service. But what sets this application apart is its emphasis on inclusivity—there are no hidden fees, no complex jargon, just a straightforward path to digital empowerment. 

2. Provide proof of income eligibility. The next step involves demonstrating eligibility, a crucial component in ensuring that these transformative resources reach those who need them most. Applicants are asked to provide proof of income status, which can be done through a variety of means. For some, this might involve sharing a recent pay stub or tax return; for others, it may mean presenting documentation of participation in public assistance programs. Regardless of the specifics, the goal remains the same: to identify and support those who have been most impacted by the digital divide. 

3. Await approval within 5 business days. Once the application and eligibility verification are complete, the final step is perhaps the most exciting: waiting for approval. Within just five business days, Human-I-T’s dedicated team reviews each application, assessing eligibility and reaching out to applicants with the good news. It’s a moment of anticipation, but also one of promise—the beginning of a journey towards digital access, opportunity, and empowerment. 

Personalized Support Every Step of the Way

Throughout this process, applicants are never alone. Human-I-T’s support team is ready and waiting to offer guidance, answer questions, and provide personalized assistance every step of the way. Whether it’s clarifying eligibility requirements, troubleshooting technical issues, or simply offering a friendly ear, these digital advocates are committed to ensuring that no one is left to navigate the complexities of the online world alone.

In a city where the digital divide has left too many behind, this support is more than just a helping hand—it’s a lifeline. For the senior citizen grappling with an unfamiliar device, the single mother struggling to afford internet for her children’s schooling, or the job-seeker searching for opportunities in an increasingly digital world, Human-I-T’s personalized assistance can make all the difference.

It’s an approach rooted in empathy, in the understanding that the path to digital equity is not always a straight line. It requires patience, compassion, and a willingness to meet people where they are. By offering not just resources, but also the human connection needed to leverage them, Human-I-T is creating a model for digital inclusion that has the power to transform lives and communities.

Breaking Down Barriers to Digital Access in Philadelphia

In the end, the quest for digital equity in Philadelphia is about more than just technology. It’s about the promise of opportunity, the potential for empowerment, and the belief that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, deserves a chance to participate fully in the digital world.

As we’ve seen, the barriers to this participation are significant. From the prohibitive costs of internet service and devices to the lack of digital literacy skills, the challenges facing low-income families, seniors, and underserved communities are complex and multifaceted. But they are not insurmountable.

Uniting Community Efforts

Through innovative programs like Human-I-T’s Gold Membership, we have the tools and the vision to bridge the digital divide. By providing affordable internet access, discounted devices, and the personalized support needed to use them effectively, we can open doors that have long been closed, connecting our most vulnerable residents to the resources, opportunities, and networks they need to thrive.

But this work cannot be the responsibility of a single organization or initiative. It requires the collective efforts of our entire community – from policymakers and service providers to educators, advocates, and everyday citizens. It demands that we recognize access to technology not as a luxury, but as a fundamental right, and that we work tirelessly to ensure that this right is extended to all.

So let us take this moment not just to celebrate the progress we’ve made, but to recommit ourselves to the work ahead. Let us stand with organizations like Human-I-T, support their efforts, and spread the word about the transformative potential of programs like Gold Membership. Let us advocate for policies and investments that prioritize digital equity, and let us never lose sight of the human faces behind the statistics—the students, the job-seekers, the seniors, and all those who stand to benefit from a more connected, more inclusive digital world.

The path forward is clear. The time for action is now. Together, we can ensure that the promise of the digital age is not just for some, but for all. We can build a Philadelphia where every resident, regardless of their zip code or income level, has the tools, the skills, and the support they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world. A Philadelphia where in the place of the digital divide is a bridge to opportunity, to empowerment, and to a brighter, more equitable future for us all.

Get access to affordable internet through Human-I-T here!

Liz Cooper

About Liz Cooper