CenturyLink is the third largest telecommunications company in the United States. The company provides broadband, voice, wireless and managed services to consumers and businesses across the country. Lifeline services from CenturyLink provide low cost phone and internet services for qualified buyers.
Through the CenturyLink Internet Basics program qualified households are eligible to receive a home internet for as low $9.95 (plus taxes) per month for 12 months along with fee modem rental for one year. At the time of service initiation, a netbook computer is available for purchase for $150 (plus taxes and S&H). CenturyLink also offers free in person and print training classes.
Launched in late 2011 this program aims to bridge the digital divide between students with broadband in the home and those who can’t afford it. Called Connect-to-Compete (C2C), the initiative is a private and nonprofit sector partnership to increase broadband adoption and promote low-cost, discounted broadband Internet service to millions of K-12 students that don't currently have broadband in their homes. The program was launched by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), in partnership with its network of cable ISPs (cable providers).
Through C2C, multiple service providers are offering qualified households high-speed Internet connectivity for as low as $9.95 per month. The deal includes free rental or low cost purchase of a cable modem and the option to purchase a refurbished computer for $150. The households mustinclude at least one child that receives free or reduced lunch under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). In a press release, the NCTA estimated that there are more than 10 million NSLP free-lunch students in approximately 5.5 million homes that currently do not subscribe to broadband.
As the NCTA indicates on its website: “Broadband is an increasingly integral part of getting a quality education, yet too few of the most needy kids have the service at home. Research shows the barriers to broadband adoption involve a complex mix of digital literacy, perceived relevance of online content, and access to low-cost computers and Internet service.” To date, cable providers offering broadband service to 86 percent of U.S. households are participating in C2C or through similar efforts. The program will be made available nationally at the start of the 2012 school year.
Comcast's Internet Essentials, a comprehensive broadband adoption program that offers discounted Internet service, affordable computers and digital literacy training to families with children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), to help bridge the digital divide and ensure more Americans benefit from all the Internet has to offer. The Internet Essentials program addresses three primary barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified: 1) a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful, 2) the cost of a home computer, and 3) the cost of the Internet service. Internet Essentials provides low-cost broadband service to eligible families for $9.95 a month, the option to purchase a full-service, Internet ready computer for less than $150 and multiple options for digital literacy training in print, online and in person.
Comcast released an Internet Essentials launch progress report that highlights the program’s achievements, shares the lessons learns and details the enhancements it will make to the program in the next year. Since the launch, Comcast has connected more than 41,000 families to Internet Essentials, distributed 5,500 computers, and offered 300 in-person digital literacy training sessions. It publicized the program across more than 4,000 school districts and 30,000 schools and worked with more than 3,000 partners to spread the word about Internet Essentials.
In addition to expanding the eligibility to its Internet Essentials program, Comcast is making five other enhancements to its efforts in the next year. It will double the broadband connection speed provided with Internet Essentials, enable community-based organization partners to purchase Internet Essentials in bulk to help reach more eligible households, streamline the approval process by providing instant approval for all students who attend schools with the highest percentage of NSLP participation, and expand and enrich its online and in-person digital literacy training efforts. Finally, Comcast will work closely with the Connect to Compete initiative to try to reduce computer costs further, enrich its digital literacy materials, promote awareness of the importance of broadband adoption and work to connect to broadband to those families who call about Internet Essentials but live outside of Comcast service areas.