FCC, Cable Companies to Provide Cheap Broadband to the Poor

They unite to provide low-income families with affordable access

The Federal Communications Commission will announce on Wednesday a plan to provide broadband Internet access to millions of poor American families who do not currently have it, according to the New York Times.

The FCC has indicated on its website that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will give a speech on the “Connect to Compete” Broadband Adoption Initiative" at 12 p.m. ET that involves an “outstanding group of representatives from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.”

Also Read: FCC's Genachowski Continues Broadband Access Push With 'Connect to Compete'

The Times reports that Genachowski will announces agreements with most major cable companies to supply access cheaply – at the cost of $9.99 a month – for a select group of low-income households.

Only households that are not current subscribers and have a child enrolled in the national school lunch program will be eligible, qualifying about 17.5 million of the roughly 100 million Americans without access.

The focus is on those families that have not yet had Internet access. While some homes still cannot get access, most can but choose not to due to either the cost of access or the belief that it is not necessary.

The reduced price is only for two years, meaning that this program is a bridge to permanent, more expensive service. However, it does involve other cost-cutting measure to encourage households.

A technology company will offer the families refurbished computers for $150 while Microsoft will provide software and Morgan Stanley will set up a microcredit program to help the families pay for the computers.

Comcast already started offering the discounted service as part of a promise to the FCC in acquisition of NBC Universal. Other major companies, such as Time Warner Cable and Cox – will partake as well but Verizon and AT&T will not.