Inner-city internet: High price, low-to-no options
I watched my Spectrum bill inch closer and closer to $200. The blotted bill bothered me, because it seemed as if I was paying more for less. I decided to drop Apple TV, though I continued to pay for the Apple device.
In April 2020, I paid $146.05, which included $9.99 for a landline. I cut the cord on the landline when my bill topped $180. Still, I can’t explain how I kept getting bigger bills. When my monthly bill crossed $200, I called Spectrum. I found whatever explanation it gave me dizzying.
“Enough!” I told myself. “I’m going to seek options.”
I looked first at my internet cost. There, I found the problem. My internet cost had gone from $45 a month to almost $100. I called Spectrum anew to ask for concessions; it offered none.
I suspect the people in customer service knew they had me in a fix: Pay it or end the service.
Well, that was hardly a choice, I thought. I figured I would look elsewhere. I asked a friend about his internet provider. He was paying about $50 for WOW!, which promised speeds far faster than any Spectrum had on its menu.
I contacted WOW!, and to my disappointment, I couldn’t get its service. I lived in the wrong ZIP code.
With WOW! now out, I turned to AT&T, my cellphone provider. I went into one of its mall stores and chatted with employees. I asked a woman there what would it cost me to get highspeed internet.
She checked my ZIP code and told me what WOW! did: I can’t get it.
I realize I’m in an internet hinterland. I’m stuck with slow and costly internet service, because no one in City Hall cares about connecting my neighborhood to the fiber optics needed to rev up my internet speed.
I doubt none of this surprises anyone who is Black and calls the inner city home. Covid made community activists and educators weigh what the lack of access to fast internet meant to people in an older neighborhood. All bemoaned the inequity between city dweller and suburbanites.
But activists and educators can’t push Spectrum, AT&T or WOW! to service the urban core. Nor can they monitor like crossing guards the rising cost of whatever internet services that people who live in a neighborhood like Glenville get.
Who can then?
I point my index finger at the mayor and Cleveland City Council. Both have long been tardy to issues like these. They seem willing to let residents pay this Black tax, which has burdened people like me for more than 25 years.
The rich can’t be the ones who always win the race for better technology. They should join the same queue I’m in; they surely shouldn’t pay less for what they get than I pay.
Maybe the latter is a stretch. I have no idea what folk in Beachwood, Shaker Heights or Westlake pay for internet or cable. Yet they do seem to get first dibs on whatever internet providers offer.
In the millennium, Blacks can ill-afford to lag behind on technology, and if they do, they need to put a foot on the necks of elected officials and insist they care as much about their plight as they seem to about the rich’s.