Low-Cost Internet on Way to Needy Families
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
November 09 2011 05:24 PM ET
FCC Chairman Genachowski announced a first-of-its kind national effort to address broadband adoption with Connect to Compete.
The Federal Communications Commission announced a new program today (Nov. 9) in which participating cable companies will provide broadband to low-income families for $10 a month.
The low-cost broadband service, Connect to Compete, will be available to households that have schoolchildren in grades K-12 who qualify for free lunch under the National School Lunch Program.
The initiative is part of the Obama adminstration’s plan to present the Internet to all Americans . Cable companies including Comcast, Cox and Time Warner will offer two years of $9.95-plus-tax service – a discount averaging 70 percent – to eligible families, according to an FCC statement. The program will not cost taxpayers, the FCC said. AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink declined to participate in the program.
The minimum access speed will be 1 Mbps.
The program is designed to close the broadband gap between low- and higher-income families. The FCC estimated that 46 percent of low-income families have adopted broadband at home, compared with over 90 percent of higher income-households.
The offer covers between 15 and 25 million Americans, including 10 to 15 million students who currently are not connected to the Internet. The FCC said that the service area includes all 50 states and covers more than 86 percent of U.S. households.
Connect to Compete is scheduled to launch in the spring and will roll out across the nation by next September, timed to coincide with the start of a new school year. The program will be available over a 3-year window.