Residents are encouraged to consider a new wireless Internet service provider in Orleans County

Residents are encouraged to consider a new wireless Internet service provider in Orleans County

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted June 2, 2023 at 10:56 am

United Way team available to help access free installation, discounted rate for low to middle income families

ALBION The Internet has changed our world, said Nyla Gaylord, writer for United Way of Orleans County and coordinator for United Ways Connect Orleans collaborative.

Gaylord is part of the initiative to bring affordable wireless broadband to all Orleans County residents. Online shopping, social media, phone and video calling, email, banking, live sporting events, music, TV shows, news, movies and more, it’s all just a click away, if it’s available, if it’s available to you. you can afford and if you know how to use it, he said.

County officials have been pushing for nearly a decade to have high-speed Internet service available throughout the county.

Sharon Quill

Gaylord and the United Way team of two Connect Orleans outreach workers, Sharon Quill and Karen Sanders, are helping lower- and middle-income families in the villages of Albion, Holley and Medina and the cities of Albion, Gaines and Shelby to prequalify for a grant that pays for the free installation of wireless broadband service and free equipment, a $650 benefit.

These communities are targeted because at least 51% of households meet the criteria for having low to moderate income. They’re also screening people to see if they qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which can save them $30 a month.

In partnership with the United Way-funded Orleans Digital Literacy Initiative, the team connects people with digital literacy mentors who offer one-on-one coaching on how to use internet-based technology such as smart TVs, phones, tablets and more.

What we’re finding is that most people can significantly reduce the cost of their Internet service by moving away from cable and switching to wireless broadband. Some people save over $100 a month, Gaylord said.

The difference between wired and wireless technology is that wire goes through a wire, like telephone lines, while broadband goes through the air. New Ambient Wireless Broadband Service, Sponsored by Orleans County Using Federal Funding, Will Significantly Expand Availability of Internet Access, Consumer Choice in Service Providers, and Opportunity to Separate from Cable Packages and Save Money money.

Many people, especially older people and people with disabilities, don’t know that they now have options for how to get Internet-based services that will save money, Gaylord said. Change is difficult. It’s a little scary to think about going from wired to wireless. The cable companies want you to bundle, but with this service you get access to the Internet and can only subscribe to the options you want. It’s like ordering off a menu instead of buying a meal. That’s why our Connect Orleans team is available to help every step of the way.

Gaylord is delighted with the work the United Way team is doing.

The whole team enjoys meeting people and talking to them about this new service, she said. When we help people save money or gain access to the internet for the first time, we know that we are truly making a positive difference in their lives.

This week, families in the villages of Albion, Holley and Medina and the cities of Albion, Gaines and Shelby will receive postcards in the mail with information on how to contact the Connect Orleans team about the new wireless broadband service and cost savings benefits , such as free installation and a free wireless receiver.

This equipment will provide access to wireless Internet services using Ambient Broadband and is funded by the Community Development Block Grant administered by Orleans County. If residents are also eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), they can save $30 a month, which would make basic service free. The basic service allows users to send emails, browse the web, stream music, and use social media. Three tiers of data plans are available, depending on your usage needs.

During the month of June, Connect Orleans Support Agents will be available at the following locations:

Karen Sanders will be in Medina at the MAAC Thrift Depot at the corner of Starr and Orient streets in Medina on Thursdays from 9am to noon.

Sharon Quill will be at Save-a-Lot in Albion on Thursdays and Fridays 1-4pm

Saturday 3 June will be an intense day for the team. Sanders will be at the Medina Community Yard Sale from 9am to 3pm, while Quill will be at the Holley June Fest.

The following weekend the Connect Orleans team will be at the Strawberry Festival near the Bounce for Bullard activities near the canal bridge.

When the weather permits, Sanders and Quill will pop up outdoors in the Holley, Medina and Albion area. Orleans County residents will be able to stop by and learn more about service availability and their options for using low-cost wireless broadband service.

The team will distribute free recyclable grocery bags from 211 Western New York and have information about separating from cable service and using common streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix as well as free entertainment options like Amazon Freevee and Roku channels.

To schedule a time to speak with a member of the Connect Orleans team, call (585) 493-6014 and leave a message. The Connect Orleans website www.connectorleans.net has information and a contact form or email: connect@orleansunitedway.org.

211 Western New York can answer calls 24/7 and will route contact information to Connect Orleans. Every effort will be made to return all calls and contacts within 24 hours on working days.

Households not eligible for free installation and free equipment can purchase Ambient Broadband service directly through the company at www.Ambientbroadband.com.

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