Although the availability of broadband internet service has become more widespread and the cost of decent desktop setups is ever dropping, many Americans still find those seemingly basic technological comforts to be out of reach.
Computers alone often cost hundreds of dollars, and monthly broadband averages about $40 a month in most areas. So in an effort to connect American families to the internet in larger numbers, the Federal Communications Commission is launching a program to put the technology in reach of poorer households in the US.
Starting in the spring, local providers such as Bright House, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner will reach out to the 25 million American families eligible for federal school-lunch programs to offer the $10 monthly broadband service, and companies like Microsoft and computer refurbishing firm Redemtech will offer the necessary equipment for $150 to $250 for families that fit the program’s criteria.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski cited a lower adoption rate for broadband internet for American families compared with families in other countries and commented that “the cost of not adopting broadband, the cost of exclusion is high and getting higher.” However, the program will not be available to all families, as the Washington Post points out:
Cable Internet service companies will provide 1 megabit-per-second speeds to eligible families that aren’t already subscribers and have clean accounts. The program won’t apply to families with overdue bills or unreturned equipment.
Experts quoted in the article say that individuals without proper web access may be missing out on social or economic opportunities afforded by home internet service.