According to the Pew Research Center, today one-third of Americans – 100 million people – have chosen not to subscribe to Internet service at home or don’t have access to it. That’s an amazing number of people who are still offline in an Internet society, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as well as other federal and state policy makers, has recognized that low-income levels, digital illiteracy and limited access to personal computers continue to be obstacles that contribute to why many Americans have not adopted to using the Internet.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has announced the creation of an innovative program designed to overcome these barriers to broadband adoption and assist Americans with using the Internet for job searching and training. The FCC’s “Connect to Compete” program will include participation by both private companies and non-profit organizations to provide much-needed training for not only the use of the personal computers and the Internet, but also the many services and products broadband services provide.
We at CenturyLink appreciate the FCC for taking a leadership role in helping Americans improve their lives through the discovery and understanding of high-speed Internet services. To support that effort, we have launched Internet Basics, a broadband adoption program that targets several of the key barriers to adoption for lower income families by providing affordable high-speed Internet service, affordable personal computers and access to free computer and Internet training programs. Through the program, eligible low- income customers in all of CenturyLink’s local service markets have access to a $9.95 a month high- speed Internet service for a full year, and then continued discounted service for $14.95 per month for an additional four years. Internet Basics also offers a new, Internet-ready netbook computer for $150, as well as free personal training and tools in more than 100 communities nationwide.
Internet Basics is attracting the interest of our customers and, perhaps more importantly, local service organizations seeking partners to assist with Internet computer-skills training. The true potential of adoption programs like CenturyLink’s and ones envisioned by Chairman Genachowski will be realized at the local market level, where communications providers and their employees work hand-in-hand with community leaders and civic groups to properly identify needs, resources, and opportunities to advance not only broadband availability, but also understand and overcome the barriers to adoption faced by those not online today.