The Federal Communications Commission revealed that - as part of its Connect to Compete initiative - it will bring low-cost broadband Internet and computers to any family that has at least one child in school that qualifies for the national school lunch program. The federal agency has teamed up with cable operators around the country as well as Redemtech Inc. and Microsoft for low-cost laptops. The broadband side of the program aims to serve around 25 million Americans at a cost of around $4 billion annually. Families can enjoy the discounted rate of $9.95 per month for two years.
The joint initiative between the public and private sector will rely on cable providers including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision offer Internet service at a fraction of the national average price of $45 a month, an FCC official said. Eligible families will be able to sign up for the service during a three-year period starting in the spring of next year in some areas, with the program going nationwide by next September to coincide with the brand new school year.
Redemtech will offer a $150 refurbished laptop or desktop with monitor to eligible families and Microsoft has committed to building a new series of $250 laptops and desktops for low-income students and families as well.
Finally, Morgan Stanley has committed to a micro-lending program to help families with the upfront costs of PC ownership.