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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 09, 2011

Major Cable Companies Set to Offer $9.95 a Month Broadband to Low Income Homes

By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

It has been obvious for quite some time that if America wants to keep up with the rest of the world technologically, one step is going to be finding a way to give those who don't have access to tech a means to get it. A few months ago, Microsoft extended a program they have been working on that brings computers and software to low income areas. Now the federal government is getting into the game.

Starting next summer, the country's cable companies will be offering low income homes broadband internet service for $9.95 a month. Some cable companies, like Comcast have already been offering severely discounted internet service but the FCC (News - Alert) put this together as part of a broader plan that will reach even more homes. According to the FCC, the way to qualify for this discounted internet plan is fairly easy. As long as your family qualifies for free school lunches, you qualify for the discounted broadband.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) pointed out that 35 million homes (about one third) in America do not currently have broadband internet access in America. The chairman said that affects the ability for Americans to educate themselves and compete for jobs. “The broadband adoption gap in the U.S. is very large, and the costs of digital exclusion are high and getting higher,” Genachowski said.

Microsoft (News - Alert) is also entering into this particular initiative, being called “connect-to-compete.” Companies such as Best Buy have also pledged to help by offering free training for those who don't feel comfortable using the net. Almost every cable company in the country has agreed to go along with the initiative for at least the next two years. One drawback is that the $9.95 a month fee does not apparently include taxes, but the companies have also apparently pledged to not charge for installation or for the modems. 

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA (News - Alert)) said that it will be up to the cable companies just how much speed is provided, but the minimum download speed will be 1 megabit per second (1/10th the speed of the average home). The NCTA believes that 5.5 million homes that don't currently have broadband will be eligible for this offer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell