Louisiana is the 37th most connected state and has 65 broadband providers. Unfortunately, 21,000 of the state’s residents have no access to broadband. No cable. No DSL. No fixed wireless. No mobile internet. Nothing.
Of the 4.6 million Louisianans, 657,000 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). Of that total, 253,000 are stuck with very low data caps on their home internet service because their only choices are fixed wireless or mobile broadband.
The state’s poverty numbers are not good. The overall poverty rate is 19.8%. The child poverty rate is 28%. The senior poverty rate is a sky high 20%. And the extreme poverty rate is 9.0%.
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.
Where: Ohio, New Jersey, Nevada, Mississippi, Michigan, Louisiana, Iowa and California
Nexus and Connect Ohio investigated the impact of various subsidies and digital literacy on rates of broadband adoption. Subscribers were given $15, $20 or zero subsidies (depending on their home zip codes) on a variety of plans differentiated by usage limits. Nexus expected the results to demonstrate (1) subscribers’ willingness to pay for data limit increases and (2) to determine if subscribers were satisfied with the choices they made.
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.”
Twenty states have passed laws inhibiting or even prohibiting the formation of municipal broadband networks. Louisiana is one of those states. The crux of the law, according to ArsTechnica.com, is that “Municipalities must hold referendums before providing service and ‘impute to themselves various costs that a private provider might pay if it were providing comparable services.'”
Despite those roadblocks, one Louisiana community has created a broadband network that serves the entire community:
Provider: LUS Fiber
Services Offered: Voice, Data, Video, Smart Grid
Area Served: Lafayette
According to its website, “LUS Fiber is Lafayette’s community owned telecommunications system, providing video, Internet and phone service to residents and businesses over the city’s only 100% fiber optic network. Communications has become the fourth utility and ours is the first municipal Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) system serving an entire community in Louisiana.” It is reported to have 57,000 customers.