There are 16,000 people in Florida with absolutely no access to broadband. No cable. No DSL. No fixed wireless. No mobile internet. Nothing.
Of the 19.6 million Floridians, one million have access to only one wired provider. Of course, that means ISP (internet service provider) can old them hostage, raise rates, or alter the terms and conditions of their contract. Because those people have no competitive options). Another 179,000 Floridians depend on fixed wireless or mobile broadband for their home connections.
The state’s latest poverty statistics are staggering. Its poverty rate is 17%. It’s child poverty rate is 25%. Its senior poverty rate is 14%. And its extreme poverty rate is 7.6%. All those numbers are tragic.
But fear not, because CheapInternet.com knows a number of ways you can get high-speed broadband internet access at prices far cheaper than you ever imagined possible.
Lower-income Internet Options
Here is the internet’s most complete list of companies and organizations that offer low-income Americans low-cost, high-speed internet access. And when we say low-cost, we’re talking about plans whose prices range from free to $14.95 per month for broadband internet. Different companies offer different prices, different types of Internet (i.e., cable, DSL or mobile), and different ways to qualify, so check them all out to see which low-income program is right for you. Click on any of the programs below to see full details on what they offer.
- Spectrum Internet Assist
- Access from AT&T
- Comcast’s Internet Essentials
- BrightHouse Networks
- Cox Low-Income Internet
- PC’s for People
- Coming soon: Lifeline Broadband
Other Low-cost Internet Options
What if you want to sign up for a cheap internet plan, but don’t qualify under the rules of the plans shown above? Or what if none of those plans are offered in your area? Luck may still be on your side, because there are other low-cost plans available for you if you know where to look. And at CheapInternet.com, we know where to look. Here’s a brief review of other low-cost options that may be available in your area.
- 4G Community
- FreedomPop Mobile Internet
- FreedomPop Home Internet
- NetZero DSL
- NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband
Lifeline Broadband Pilot Programs
The Lifeline Assistance program, which offers free government cell phones to low-income Americans, has helped millions of needy Americans. The program has been so successful that the Federal Communications Commission decided to investigate the possibility of creating a similar program called Lifeline Internet or Lifeline Broadband.
Fourteen cable companies and service organizations were selected by the FCC to test pilot programs in various regions around the country. The pilot programs looked into the impact of various pricing plans, discounts, and equipment.
We expect the FCC to announce the results of the pilot programs and perhaps even announce the introduction of an official Lifeline Broadband (or Lifeline Internet) program before the end of 2014. Although you can no longer sign up nor participate in these programs, you may be interested in seeing what the future of free internet may look like in your state.
Who: TracFone and Technology Goes Home
Where: Wisconsin, Washington, Texas, Massachusetts, Maryland and Florida
Contact: 617-635-2822 (Technology Goes Home); 800-867-7183 (TracFone)
TracFone’s pilot program offers differing combinations of free or discounted hardware combined with service at a cost of $10 or $20 per month. The purpose of this TracFone and Technology Goes Home pilot program was to test low-income customers’ sensitivity to upfront and ongoing prices. By comparing two different offers, TracFone was expected to estimate the adoption and success of each offer.
Municipal Broadband Networks
Wikipedia defines a Municipal Broadband Network (often called Community Broadband Network) like this: “Municipal broadband deployments are broadband Internet access services provided either fully or partially by local governments. Common connection technologies include unlicensed wireless (Wi-Fi, wireless mesh networks), licensed wireless (such as WiMAX), and fiber-optic. Although many cities previously deployed Wi-Fi based solutions, municipal fiber-to-the-home networks are becoming more prominent because of increased demand for modern audio and video applications.”
According to ArsTechnica.com, Florida “Imposes special tax on municipal telecommunications service and a profitability requirement that makes it difficult to approve capital-intensive communications projects.”
Nevertheless, several cities have managed to establish municipal networks for the benefit of their citizens:
Provider: Gainesville Regional Utilities
Services Offered: Data
Area Served: Gainesville
GATOR NET, Gainesville’s only digital, all-fiber-optic network, is available in dozens of apartment communities and neighborhoods around town. It offers the fastest Internet options in Gainesville.
Services Offered: Voice, Data, Video
Area Served: Quincy and surrounding areas
This municipal network brings fiber-to-the-home of each of the town’s 7,965 residents (just north of Tallahassee).
Provider: Ocala Utility Services
Services Offered: Business Services, Data
Area Served: Ocala
Ocala provides a comprehensive network of fiber optics throughout the city but the service is currently restricted to businesses and public buildings only. The city has no immediate plans to expand to residential service, but a representative told us to “check back with our website for services that may be offered in the future.”
Provider: Palm Coast FiberNET
Services Offered: Data, Voice, Business Services
Area Served: Palm Coast
The FiberNET fiber optic network covers 50 miles of major roadways in Palm Coast and already connects city facilities, Flagler Schools, and more than two dozen businesses. Fiber is currently available along Palm Coast Parkway, Belle Terre Parkway, in Town Center and along the U.S. 1 corridor. As FiberNET continues to expand, the city hopes to add municipal wi-fi spots at parks and other public facilities and to use the network for traffic and emergency management.