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By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

May 21, 2024 | 5 min read

In this exclusive for The Drum, see a teaser for the film, which spotlights the surprising ’digital divide’ in the US.

In the digital age, tens of millions of Americans still lack access to high-speed home internet – a disparity that AT&T aims to underscore in a forthcoming documentary titled Route to Connection.

The film, produced in collaboration with Attn, Candle Media’s storytelling division, explores the significant impact of the ’digital divide’ on residents of Amarillo, Texas, a city with one of the lowest internet connectivity rates in the US and demonstrates how improved internet access can change their lives.

“Connectivity has become the key to nearly every door of opportunity, but millions of Americans don’t have access to affordable high-speed internet. This is the digital divide – and while, as connectivity providers it’s something we obsess about, many people in this country don’t even know this divide exists,” Kellyn Smith Kenny, chief marketing and growth officer, AT&T, tells The Drum.

Route to Connection centers on the lives of three Amarillo residents: Vicky, an aspiring teacher; Serges, a small business owner; and Natalie, a student, delving into their personal struggles and triumphs as they navigate life with limited internet access.

In an exclusive teaser shared with The Drum, Vicky is seen struggling to complete her schoolwork due to the lack of internet at home; she resorts to using her sister’s internet from her car. Viewers see how gaining access to high-speed internet enables Vicky to pursue her teaching aspirations without hindrance.

AT&T’s Kenny explains the decision to focus on the story of Amarillo residents in particular: “It was a place with such a rich community, yet still a surprisingly unconnected place. There are ‘Amarillos’ all over the country. We feel the stories in this documentary ... mirror those of Americans across the country who live in the digital divide.”

The film was produced by Eve Van Dyke, an Emmy award-winning filmmaker known for her work with Vice, HBO and The New York Times. Van Dyke, who also served as creative director on the project, has vast experience in documenting human resilience – expertise that lends a powerful panache to the film, emphasizing the subtle yet significant impacts of digital inequality.

Beyond driving awareness around the problem, AT&T’s reason for sponsoring the documentary is highlighting the role that it has played in bringing affordable, high-speed internet and digital literacy resources to underserved communities. In Amarillo, the company has begun installing ultra-fast internet for more than 22,000 residents, a project scheduled to be completed by September 2025.

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Route to Connection is part of AT&T’s broader goal to help 25 million people get and stay connected by 2030 through a collective effort involving public, private and nonprofit organizations, according to Charlene Lake, the organization’s chief sustainability officer.

“This work carries out our mission of connecting people to greater possibility. Connectivity is a social determinant of health, education and prosperity, which we want everyone to enjoy,” Lake says. “When we narrow the digital divide, we enable people to pursue personal and professional opportunities that lead to healthy communities and a stronger economy.”

Attn led the creative, while Hearts & Science, an Omnicom Media Group agency, will handle the campaign’s media plan.

The full documentary will be available to stream on Attn’s YouTube and Facebook channels starting June 14.

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