September 23, 2020

Montgomery County and Main Street Connect Offer Innovative Initiative to Help Close Digital Divide for Low-Income and Special Needs Residents of Main Street Apartments in Rockville

Montgomery County and nonprofit Main Street Connect have announced a joint initiative that will offer low-income and special needs residents of the newly opened Main Street Apartments in Rockville access to free, high-speed home internet service.

Founded in 2017 by Jillian and Scott Copeland, Main Street Connect was inspired by the Copelands’ son, Nicolas, who has developmental disabilities. Like many parents in similar situations, the Copelands’ search for long-term housing for Nicolas produced very few options in which he could thrive. Hoping to alleviate similar situations for other families, the Copelands started Main Street Connect with a mission to create affordable and inclusive housing that offers residents—of all abilities—the opportunity for dynamic opportunities and community engagement.

The project brings together Montgomery County and Main Street Connect with technology leaders Plume and Positron Access Solutions. Montgomery County will be providing symmetrical speeds of 50 Mbps+ (upload and download), as well as internet bandwidth to support Wi-Fi service in all public areas in the building. Plume, a leading smart home experience company, will provide an enhanced home Wi-Fi offering to residents free of charge. That service includes strong, consistent Wi-Fi coverage, online security, parental and access controls and 24/7 customer service. Positron, a leading enabler of high-speed internet services, is providing the broadband access equipment necessary for residents to connect to Montgomery County’s free internet.

The pilot project, which will impact 60 to 70 units in the building, aims to address digital equity within the Main Street Apartments community. Digital equity means everyone—no matter their socioeconomic background—has equal access to the technology necessary to participate in all aspects of society. For low-income households especially, access to the internet can be a burden when added to the costs of rent, childcare, food and other necessary expenses.

Montgomery County’s Department of Technology Services is looking to learn from the pilot project and develop additional opportunities to expand the availability of no-cost/low cost internet solutions soon.

Read more about this progressive enterprise in the press release.