charter spectrumCharter Communications this week launched a low-income broadband service dubbed Spectrum Internet Assist that provides speeds of 30 Mbps downstream and 4 Mbps upstream for $14.99 monthly. The offering is considerably faster than low-income broadband offerings that have been available until now and considerably less costly than a typical broadband service offering equivalent speeds.

Those eligible for the low-income broadband service include families with students who participate in the National School Lunch Program as well as seniors who are at least 65 years old and who receive Supplemental Security Income program benefits.

To qualify, customers also must not have had a Charter, Time Warner Cable or Bright House Network broadband subscription within 60 days of signing up. Credit ratings will not be considered but customers must settle any unpaid balances with any of those three companies – all of which are now part of Charter – before they can receive Spectrum Internet Assist.

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“Spectrum Internet Assist is an important next step in providing true high-speed connections to those who would otherwise continue to face digital inequality in this country,” said Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge in a press release about Charter’s new low-income broadband offering. “It’s important for cable and broadband providers like us to play a role in bridging the digital divide so that everyone has access to the information and tools they need to succeed in today’s economy.”

Spectrum Internet Assist Low-Income Broadband
Beginning this week, Spectrum Internet Assist will be available in Charter’s legacy service area and is targeted for roll out across the company’s entire service territory by mid-2017.

Qualified customers can bundle voice and/ or video with Spectrum Internet Assist at a lower price than they would pay for traditional bundled packages. Charter notes, for example, that a triple play bundle of voice, video and data starts at $74.97 for qualifying customers.

Customers who qualify for Spectrum Assist also can purchase Charter WiFi, which includes a router, for $5 a month and have the installation fee waived. Charter pledged that the rate for Charter WiFi will not be increased for the life of the program.

It’s worth noting that Spectrum Internet Assist does not appear to be eligible for inclusion in the FCC Lifeline program, which pays $9.25 toward the cost of broadband service for qualifying low-income users. Although Spectrum Internet Assist exceeds the 10/1 Mbps minimum Lifeline broadband speed requirement, the qualifications proposed for that program are different from the qualifications that Charter has established.

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