The Connected Nation Blog: FCC’s Connect to Compete Initiative Offers Low-Income Households an Opportunity to Get Connected

Thursday, November 10, 2011

FCC’s Connect to Compete Initiative Offers Low-Income Households an Opportunity to Get Connected

By Travis Lane, Research Analyst for Connected Nation

According to a new NTIA report, 32% of American households do not subscribe to home broadband service, meaning that approximately 100 million Americans are at risk of being left behind as educators and employers increasingly move online. For many families, particularly those with low annual household incomes, cost is a major barrier to broadband adoption. According to research conducted by Connected Nation earlier this year, 44% of low-income households with children (those reporting annual incomes of $25,000 or less) who do not subscribe to home broadband service say cost is a barrier to adoption.

This includes 25.4% who say the monthly cost of subscribing to broadband is too expensive, 13.2% who say that a computer is too expensive, and 4.9% who report that the activation and installation fees are too expensive.

Enter Connect to Compete, a partnership of leading Internet service providers, technology companies, and non-profits (including Connected Nation) being led by the FCC. Yesterday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that Connect to Compete would work to address these cost barriers by making reduced-cost broadband service available to households that qualify for the National School Lunch Program, including a rental modem (for two years), free installation, and 1 Mbps access. In addition to the broadband service, Connect to Compete will provide refurbished computers at a reduced cost, which will come preloaded with educational and career content and Microsoft software. Since this program is aimed at low-income families (many of whom would still be unable to afford the reduced price tag), a microcredit program is also being developed to help families pay for the computers.

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