WCP: Internet Access and the High Costs of Being Poor

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We are honored that John Russo, our Visiting Scholar for the 2015-16 academic year, brings the renowned Working-Class Perspectives (new window) blog to the Kalmanovitz Initiative. The blog is edited by John and Georgetown English professor Sherry Linkon, an expert on teaching and learning in the humanities. It features several regular contributors as well as guest bloggers.

Today’s post is authored by Alex Russo and deals with the inequality of internet access between the poor and the rest of the country. Lower-income users pay more for both devices and access, and that leaves them at a disadvantage when it comes to the most basic activities, like applying for jobs.

Poor people routinely pay more for access capital. They are, for example, charged higher interest rates by exploitative payday lender services. That pattern also applies to cell phones. In working class neighborhoods of American cities, cell phone stores are almost as ubiquitous as payday lenders. The dedicated pay-as-you-go cell phone services available from these outlets, like Boost Mobile or TracPhones, as well as the major contract carriers like ATT, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, offer pay-as-you-go options that may be affordable on a monthly basis but cost much more over time than the purchase plans that people with more disposable income can afford.

Take a moment to read the post (new window) in its entirety and check out other Working-Class Perspectives (new window) posts on our website.