Surviving the coronavirus pandemic without internet

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – For years, a family in far West Knoxville requested internet service, but it’s never been installed. They were told it’s just too expensive.

Knox County Schools, like many other districts in East Tennessee, has moved to online learning after schools were closed last month to wait out the pandemic.

To participate, you have to have high speed internet to access the information; as a result, some kids can’t do their homework.

Nallely, a 7th grader at Farragut Middle School has been out of class since March 13.

She’d like to be able to keep up with her assignments online, but at her home there is no access to high speed internet.

The house where she and her parents live belongs to her great-grandparents. In January, they moved to an assisted living facility. It was the grandfather that notified WATE 6 On Your Side to the lack of access in their West Knoxville neighborhood.

“A lot of what they tell us to do is on a bunch of websites and videos which is hard because we don’t have internet.”

Nallely

“Well we have called all of the cable companies and asked them about it, they told us there is just not going to be any service.”

Brandon Campbell

Nallely’s family lives along a rural road. As we have reported before, cost is the main reason why cable providers are reluctant to drop high speed internet lines in sparsely populated areas.

Because of no internet and no access, if they go on their phone, it costs more money on data. Like on the phone, it’s hard to see what you are looking at. They have Dish Network. There is no interaction with Dish Network for internet services.

Nallely says she tries hot spots with her phone but that is slow. She misses doing school work.

“All my friends are able to do it because they have internet. So, they’re able to do it and I can’t so it gets pretty frustrating a lot of the time.”

Nallely

Some underground cable has been installed about a quarter of a mile from Nallely’s home.

So far her grandfather says requests for internet service to local providers have been turned down.

Nalley can’t wait to get caught up and to be back in school.

WATE 6 On Your Side checked with cable providers today, and Nallely’s family lives outside of the boundaries, we were told.

When it comes to improving daily lives and now continuing education, access to reliable high speed internet today is becoming as essential as running water and electricity was 80 and 90 years ago in some areas of East Tennessee.

But many areas are still without modern technology.

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