If it were a state, Puerto Rico would fall somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to the percentage of its population that have access to broadband service. A total of 15 different broadband providers do business in the Commonwealth.
There are 220,000 people in Puerto Rico with no access to broadband. No cable. No DSL. No fixed wireless. No mobile internet. Nothing.
Of the 3.6 million Puerto Ricans, 800,000 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). And unfortunately, 1.2 million Puerto Ricans suffer the consequences of low data caps because their only broadband subscription choices are fixed wireless or mobile broadband.
There’s a huge need for cheap internet in Puerto Rico, because the poverty is absolutely crushing. The Commonwealth’s overall poverty rate was a horrifying 44.9% in 2012, which is actually an improvement over 2011. Unofficial statistics show that approximately 1.6 million island residents live below the federal poverty line in2012. As you might expect, that means food stamp usage is almost commonplace. Nearly 38% percent of island residents were dependent on this government assistance in 2012. Sadly, that’s nearly triple the national average.
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.
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 to you.
- 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: PR Wireless
Where: Puerto Rico
PR Wireless and Connected Nation offered one group of customers subsidized broadband and a second group no subsidy in order to study the impact of subsidies on various types of equipment. A subsidy of $25 was offered on five different wireless broadband plans, each with the same end-user charge and usage limits, but with access to different equipment (modems, tablet, laptop, and desktop computers) in order to determine how different types of equipment impact data usage and broadband adoption rates. Lifeline Assistance contributed a limit of $661,613 to this pilot program.
Who: Puerto Rico Telephone Company
Where: Puerto Rico
PRT and The Research Office tested two things by giving subscribers their choice of four different projects with different prices: (1) Consumers’ preference for wireless or wireline broadband, and (2) Usage limits. Options included wireline broadband bundled with wireline voice service at speeds of either two Mbps download, one Mbps upload or four Mbps download, one Mbps upload. Puerto Rico Telephone offered $5 subsidies off the wireline broadband plans. The other three project included the option to buy a wireless broadband plan with usage limits of either two GB or three GB and either stand-alone broadband service or service bundled with wireline voice service. PRT offered consumers $5 off the bundled wireless plan or $18.50 off the stand-alone broadband plans.
Who: T-Mobile Puerto Rico
Where: Puerto Rico
T-Mobile, in partnership with Sistema Universitario Ana G Mendez and Centro Para Puerto Rico, will test certain advertising and outreach methods to determine which type of outreach most effectively increases broadband adoption. T-Mobile will offer a flat-rate subsidy of $20 off broadband plans with varying usage limits.
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.”
Unfortunately, no municipal wifi networks are currently available in Puerto Rico.