Research indicates that Illinois is the 15th most connected state and that 202 broadband providers offer services in the state.
Despite those good numbers, there are still 18,000 people in Illinois with no access to broadband. No cable. No DSL. No fixed wireless. No mobile internet. Nothing.
Of the 12.9 million Illinoisans, 737,000 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). 314,000 of them are handicapped with low data caps because their only options are fixed wireless or mobile broadband connections.
Illinois’ high taxes is driving businesses to neighboring states and that fact is reflected in the state’s poverty statistics. The overall poverty rate is 14.7%. The child poverty rate is 21%. The senior poverty rate is 11%. And the extreme poverty rate is 6.8%.
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.
Low-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
- 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: Partnership for a Connected Illinois Project
This Illinois-only pilot program was conducted by Adams Telephone Cooperative, Cass Telephone Company, Harrisonville Telephone Company, Madison Telephone Company, Mid-Century Telephone Cooperative, Shawnee Telephone Company, and Wabash Telephone Cooperative in conjunction with a group of non-profits. The project studied the impact of digital literacy on broadband adoption rates over the course of 12 months. Two groups of subscribers received a flat rate $30 subsidy. The first group’s plans included intensive digital literacy training, but the second group didn’t.
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.”
Here are the residential providers in Illinois:
Provider: City of Evanston
Services Offered: Unknown
Area Served: Evanston
Evanston, Illinois, adjacent to Chicago and Lake Michigan, is expanding its fiber business network to connect residents and businesses in a new condominium development and to nearby commercial property. Community leaders estimate around 1,000 residential and commercial subscribers will have access to the new 1 gig network.
Provider: Highland Communication Services
Services Offered: Data, Video, Voice
Area Served: Highland
HCS offers a state of the art Fiber To The Premises (FTTP) high-speed video, voice, and data communications system at a competitive price while providing excellent local customer service to businesses and residences.
Provider: Rochelle Municipal Utilities
Services Offered: Business Services, Data
Area Served: Rochelle
RMU offers fiber connections available for businesses, wireless for residential. Residential speeds are up to 3 Mbps.
Provider: UC2B (Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband)
Services Offered: Data, Video, Voice
Area Served: Urbana-Champaign
This state-of-the art-fiber-optic network targets fiber to the premise (FTTP) connections in neighborhoods where broadband adoption was historically at 40% or less.