Research shows that Ohio is the 17th most connected state and has 151 broadband providers in the state. Despite that ranking and all those broadband providers, there are 54,000 people in Ohio with no access to broadband. No cable. No DSL. No fixed wireless. No mobile internet. Nothing.
Of the 11.6 million Ohioans, 939,000 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). There are also 258,000 residents handicapped by low data caps because their only source of broadband is either fixed wireless or mobile broadband.
This rustbelt state has some severe poverty problems as is demonstrated in the following statistics: The overall poverty rate is 16%. The child poverty rate is 24%. The senior poverty rate is 10%. And the extreme poverty rate, sadly, is 7.5%.
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.
- Access from AT&T
- Spectrum Internet Assist
- Comcast’s Internet Essentials
- 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: Virgin Mobile and Technology Goes Home
Where: Ohio and Massachusetts
Contact: 617-635-2822 (Technology Goes Home);
This pilot program tested the effect on adoption and retention of discounted prices and device costs by offering four varying subscription offers. Two groups of subscribers paid $20 while two other groups paid $0 with a $20 activation fee. Virgin and TGH hoped to determine customers’ sensitivity to upfront versus ongoing costs and also gather information on broadband adoption rates and data usage.
Where: Ohio and West Virginia
This pilot program, conducted by Frontier, Connect Ohio and Mission West Virginia, attempted to determine if financial incentives would increase the rate at which subscribers sign up for digital literacy training. Subscribers were able to choose from three offers: (1) a $20 monthly subsidy off a range of wireline broadband plans, (2) A $30 monthly subsidy and waiver of one-time $34.99 charge IF the subscriber participated in a digital literacy program, and (3) A $20 monthly subsidy and free computer if the subscriber participated in a digital literacy program.
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.”
A number of Ohio cities offer broadband networks exclusively for area businesses. But our research shows just one that offers residential service:
Provider: Wadsworth Communications
Services Offered: Data
Area Served: Wadsworth
The Wadsworth City website says, “CityLink Internet Service uses the same cable lines as the Cable TV service and provides broadband internet for Wadsworth City and Township residences. CityLink competes against other internet providers to bring prices down for the people of Wadsworth.”