On May 18, Charter Communications “closed escrow” on its purchase of rivals Time-Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. That’s great news for America’s neediest citizens because Charter has promised to introduce a brand new high-speed, low-income Internet plan within six months of that date, which means the new plan should launch by November 18, 2016.
The service, which will be offered everywhere Charter offers cable service within three years. The cost? Just $14.99 per month. That’s $5 per month more than Comcast’s Internet Essential and CenturyLink’s Internet Basics, but Charter customers will get extra speed for their extra dollars. The new plan will give you speeds of up to 30 Mbps downstream and 4 Mbps upstream (which exceeds the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of broadband (currently set at 25Mbps down by 3Mbps up).
And, finally, there will be no data caps on this new plan. That’s a huge win for struggling Americans. It means your kids can do all their homework, downloading every video they need to succeed in school, and your family can download films, too, without fear of running out of allowable gigabytes.
Who will be eligible?
The Charter program is aimed at families with students who participate in the National School Lunch Program and seniors 65 and older who receive Supplemental Security Income.
There are a couple small “catches” you should be aware of. You cannot have had a Charter, Time-Warner or Bright House broadband subscription within 60 days of enrolling. And if you owe money to any of the companies, you must pay it off before you will be considered eligible.
Other than that, you’re good to go.
Qualified applicants will receive a free modem and a self-installation kit. Hopefully, they include a detailed booklet because if you’re as technologically inept as CheapInternet.com’s editor, you’ll never figure out how to do the installation. (Just kidding. We’re confident that Charter will make the whole process foolproof).
In addition to the high-speed cable service, you will also be eligible to receive what Charter calls “promotional” video and phone service bundle offers. (It sounds to us as if Charter is getting a jump by aligning its new program to match up with the new Lifeline Broadband requirements demanded by the Federal Communications Commission.)
Where will it be available?
Remember that Charter is scheduled to begin rolling the program out in November of this year. “Begin” is the key word. The company has not yet announced in which markets the roll-out will begin, but it has promised to extend the program within three years everywhere it and its acquisition partners do business.
Here’s how Charter defined its new, expanded business territory in a recent press release:
The combination of Charter, TWC and Bright House will create a leading broadband services and technology company, serving over 25 million customers in 41 states. The completion of the transactions will drive investment into the combined entity’s advanced broadband network, resulting in faster broadband speeds, better video products, more affordable phone service and more competition, for consumers and businesses.
Let’s do a quick review of the states in which the three individual companies currently offer cable service.
NOTE: When the program is finally introduced, we will create a unique page for this new high-speed, low-income plan from Charter, Time Warner and Bright House. It will provide far more detail than this page as soon as that information is made available.
Charter – Available in 28 states including Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts , Michigan, Minnesota , Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
Time Warner Cable – Available in 29 states including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin
Bright House – Available in six states including Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and Michigan
Give it a name, Charter!
This new low-cost, high-speed Internet plan is great news for millions of Americans who live in areas of the country where similar plans are unavailable. But for god’s sake, Charter, please ask your advertising and marketing people to come up with a catchy name for the program.
We’re going to tear our hair out if we are forced to say “Charter’s low-cost, high-speed Internet plan every time we refer to it. It will make life easier for your customers and your customer service people, too.