A group of cable Internet Service Providers (ISPs) including Comcast and Time Warner Cable, equipment manufacturers and nonprofit groups has joined the previously announced initiative  “Connect to Compete” (C2C), a public-private partnership organized by the FCC to address the barriers to broadband adoption, digital illiteracy and the employment skills gap.

Comcast, through the Internet Essentials program it launched this past summer, will play a pivotal role in the program. Together with the other participating cable companies, C2C will reach 86% of all U.S. households, according to a ComcastVoices blog post.

Increasing broadband adoption has been a priority for the FCC. Digital literacy, equipment and service costs are the three main reasons about one-third of Americans haven’t chosen to install broadband at home, according to research studies.

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The C2C initiative will kick off at the start of the 2012-2013 school year with the launch of a $9.95 per month broadband cable Internet service for households with at least one child receiving a free lunch under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Some 17.5 million children are enrolled in the NSLP, according to a NY Times report. Also limiting the scale of the program, the $9.95 monthly price will be good for an initial two-years only.

Non-profit One Economy will help administer the program while participating companies will promote the effort through a combination of public service announcements and by working with local political, civic and community leaders.

An unspecified technology company will supply refurbished computers for qualified households for as low as $150. Microsoft has agreed to provide software and Morgan Stanley will help develop a micro-credit program to help families pay for the computers, according to the NY Times.

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7 thoughts on “Connect to Compete Aims to Expand $10 Broadband

  1. why is this being limited to cable providers? this should be available from any isp provider. this gives the large cable providers an advantage over local telcos that also offer the same services. the government should not be providing support funding unless it is willing to do so to all players.

    1. Because the people receiving the service will benefit. It isn't about the cable or phone company, it is about getting access to the internet to the people who need it. The phone companies can jump in there and wolunteer

      1. Dananet – please provide us with the information telephone companies need to become part of this elite partnership, since you seem to have the inside track on this.
        I agree with harold – It is incredibly important for a program like this, which is being at least partially funded by government dollars, to be open to any providers to enroll. For the government to take a stance with one side, in this case the cable providers, and to shun any other options for delivering these services, in this case telephone companies and wireless Internet providers, is incredibly irresponsible and violates the premise on which our government was founded. It would be no different than if the government partnered with Target, and provided subsidies to Target to allow them to offer lower prices, while blatantly ignoring WalMart and KMart.

  2. it's good to see the option extended beyond one provider. it's a start toward increased access for those without. that said, my friend, who was homeless for ten years and now has a home, but no kids and no affordable internet access from home – she won't qualify. She could really use an affordable home account. It would help her get connected to the broader community. She couldn't register for an event this weekend because registration was only online. Her email accounts were closed due to infrequent activity. She has to travel at least a mile or two by bus to get to an Internet connection in a public space and then wait in line. convince me that the ISPs can't do more.

  3. What the Govt should be doing is subsidizing ways for “low income” families to better manage their money. It would do some people good to get off their butt and look for a job. From my experience, far too often than not, people who are on “low income” have nice vehicles, 5 tv’s, all the latest gizmo’s and gadgets, but unfortunately they can’t afford to take care of their own children. Just look at our country’s welfare system. Sadly, only a small percentage actually should be awarded this service. Lastly, those who receive this benefit; how many will keep this service after the intro period and still have no job??

    1. It's not about money management, it's about giving children a fighting chance in the technology age. Not all families make huge stacks of cash, they may be working but not make enough to provide internet service for their school age children. These kids need to be able to access the internet for school research. The program is only available as long as they have a school age child receiving free lunches. Once those kids are out of the house, they are no longer eligible. There may be adults out there that abuse the system, and that is unfortunate, but the kids are not to blame.

  4. There are some great high speed internet for the poor programs coming out this year. Connect to Compete rolls out by September 2012, but there are also other nonprofit groups doing their own thing like School2Home in California whose goal is to equip 400,000 low income students with a free computer and free internet.

    One company you missed is Internet Basics, by CenturyLink. It provides $9.95/month internet and a $150 computer to those under 135% of the poverty level or to those who are already on government assistance. It's pretty much the same qualifications as the free government cell phones program (which has 10 million subscribers).

    There is a lot going on now, trying to make high-speed broadband ubiquitous. So much so that I've created a website that lists all these programs and how to qualify. There's a lot of info on it: http://www.cheapinternet.com/

    Looking forward to seeing more and more people — kids especially — cross the digital divide.

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