Texas is the 31st most connected state and its called home by a remarkable 266 broadband providers. Despite those numbers, there are 56,000 people in Alabama with no access to broadband. No cable. No DSL. No fixed wireless. No mobile internet. Nothing.
Of the 26.5 million Texans, 3.1 million 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 1.2 million depend on fixed wireless or mobile broadband with low data caps.
A huge number of Texans need help to avoid the Digital Divide that separates wealthy Americans from needier ones. The state’s overall poverty rate is 17.5%. Its child poverty rate is an eye-popping 26%. Its senior poverty rate is 16%. And its extreme poverty rate is 7.3%.
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: TracFone and Technology Goes Home
Where: Wisconsin, Washington, Texas, Massachusetts, Maryland and Florida
Contact: 617-635-2822 (Technology Goes Home); 800-867-7183 (TracFone)
TracFone’s pilot program offers differing combinations of free or discounted hardware combined with service at a cost of $10 or $20 per month. The purpose of this TracFone and Technology Goes Home pilot program was to test low-income customers’ sensitivity to upfront and ongoing prices. By comparing two different offers, TracFone was expected to estimate the adoption and success of each offer.
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, there are no municipalities offering broadband networks to the citizens of Texas. You can lay the blame at the feet of state law.
According to gigaom.com, Texas “prohibits municipalities and municipal electric utilities from offering telecommunications services to the public either directly or indirectly through a private telecommunications provider.”
We’ll keep you posted if the situation changes in the Lone Star state.