NEW YORK Cable companies said Wednesday that they will offer Internet service for $9.95 per month to homes with children that are eligible for free school lunches.
The offer will start next summer and is part of an initiative the Federal Communications Commission cobbled together to get more U.S. homes connected to broadband.
One third, or about 35 million homes, dont have broadband. That affects peoples ability to educate themselves and find and apply for jobs, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said.
The broadband adoption gap in the U.S. is very large, and the costs of digital exclusion are high and getting higher, Genachowski said.
The initiative, called Connect-to-Compete, also includes Microsoft Corp., which pledges to sell PCs with its Office software suite for $250 to low-income families. A firm called Redemtech is offering to sell refurbished computers for $150, including shipping.
For those who cant afford those prices, Morgan Stanley is pledging to develop a microfinance lending program for community-based financial institutions.
All major cable companies are standing behind the $9.95 offer, which will be valid for two years. The price doesnt include taxes, but the companies are pledging to charge nothing for installation or rental.