Although South Carolina is the 26th most connected state and despite the fact that there are 61 broadband providers in the state, there are still 23,000 people in the state with no access to broadband. No cable. No DSL. No fixed wireless. No mobile internet. Nothing.
Of the 4.8 million South Carolinians, 969,000 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). 133,000 people in the state suffer with low data caps with their home internet connection because they must rely on fixed wireless or mobile broadband connections.
The state’s overall poverty rate is 18.6%. Its child poverty rate is an absolutely horrifying 27%. Its senior poverty rate is 14%. Its senior poverty rate is 14%. And its extreme poverty rate is 8.4%.
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
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.
Unfortunately, none of the FCC’s Lifeline Broadband Pilot Programs were conducted in South Carolina.
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.”
Some state legislatures have passed laws inhibiting or even prohibiting municipal broadband networks. South Carolina is one of those states. According to ArsTechnica.com, “the state ‘requires governmental providers to comply with all legal requirements that would apply to private service providers, to impute phantom costs into their prices, including funds contributed to stimulus projects, taxes that unspecified private entities would incur, and other unspecified costs.'”
Despite these obstacles, one system has been established in South Carolina:
Provider: Orangeburg County Broadband
Services Offered: Data, Voice
Area Served: Orangeburg County (serves nine communities in the county)
Orangeburg County Broadband currently serves public facilities, but a recent proposal says, “Our intention is to offer an IP voice service, IP over the top video service, and High Speed Internet. For residents initially served by Fixed Wireless we will offer IP voice and High Speed Internet, no video offering will be available to residents served by wireless.” Currently, about 300 customers have access to the Internet as a result of the initial phase to supply Orangeburg County residents and businesses with high-speed Internet access.