I had assembled a small group of volunteers who wanted better broadband for our hometown. We had energy, but we needed money too, and looking for financial support led to our early outreach efforts to seniors.
When I began speaking to community groups about building a municipal broadband utility, I expected support from young people and assumed enthusiasm would diminish with age. I was wrong.
People 65 and up were among the most ardent and generous supporters of the project. They donated most of the money needed to publicize our required referendum, volunteered to secure permission for signs in yards and storefronts, and wrote about their support in the local news media. Seniors support community broadband for different reasons than working adults with school-aged children, but that doesn't diminish their enthusiasm.
Here are some reasons to recruit seniors to support your broadband project.
It's Important to Young People
Seniors have witnessed the community impact of young people leaving and not coming back. More importantly, their own lives have changed because young family members have left, and seniors understand that broadband is a desired amenity and an essential service.
Staying Connected with Family
Whether a family member is around the corner or on the other side of the world, technology is how their family stays in touch.
Low Satisfaction with Incumbent Providers
Many people report being satisfied with the services offered by incumbent providers and yet still intensely dislike them. This is especially true of seniors who aren't familiar with or currently in need of high-speed broadband. They don't like and won't forget the anonymous, unconcerned "customer service" the incumbents provide through call centers. Local broadband utilities provide a level of service and customer care that can't be outsourced to the lowest-cost, often foreign-based call center.
They're Concerned About the Future of Their Community
Many seniors are deeply invested in their communities. They've contributed to community projects, rolled up their sleeves as volunteers, and served on boards and commissions. They're proud of their community, and they want it to remain healthy.
They Understand Technology Will Be
A Key for Aging-In-Place
People prefer their own home to living in a nursing facility. As children and loved ones have dispersed throughout the country, technology has become essential for living safely and comfortably at home.
Community broadband is a significant investment that demands broad public support. Early support for the project later fuels subscriptions to services, the key to success. Tapping into every community age group's unique needs and perspectives is essential, and seniors shouldn't be overlooked.
If you would like to talk about broadband with me, call 319-214-9952 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.