Cable industry proposes 50 percent discounts on broadband service serving middle school students
Getting high-speed Internet to American homes is just half the battle. Getting people to pay for the service and use it is the other part of the challenge facing federal regulators.
As such, the cable industry Tuesday proposed a two-year project to bring discounted broadband service to middle school students who don't get broadband today. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association announced a plan called Adoption Plus that would target 3.5 million middle school children from low-income families. In it, cable providers represented by the NCTA said they would give free installation and a 50 percent discount for high-speed Internet service.
The offer would give cable companies more customers. It also hinges on government aid for computers and training. The industry group is pushing the government to use stimulus funds to help households with training on computers and Internet use as well as discounts for computers. The cable companies won't get any of that funding.
The Obama administration has made universal broadband Internet access a cornerstone of its technology agenda. As part of the stimulus plan, more than $7 billion was allocated to the construction of broadband networks and programs to spur adoption.
Blair Levin, executive director of the Federal Communications Commission's broadband planning group, said the challenge of getting people to adopt broadband is complex and needs several targeted solutions. Congress has directed the FCC to come up with a plan by next February to bring affordable broadband to every home in the United States.
"We think you’ve targeted what we think of as most important segment: school age kids," Levin said in a conference call about the announcement with the NCTA. "Our country can't afford for our kids to fall further behind."
Kyle McSlarrow, CEO of the NCTA, said in the call that the program would include teleco Internet service providers if they choose to participate. He said the proposed program would include school districts, the federal and state governments, non-profit corporations promoting digital literacy, and computer manufacturers (including retailers and/or non-profits supplying computers that access the Internet).
The participating cable providers are: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision, Bright House, Mediacom, Suddenlink, Insight Communications, Bresnan Communications, Midcontinent Communications, GCI, US Cable, Bend Broadband, Eagle Communications, and Sjoberg’s Cable.
December 1, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
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