AT&T (NYSE: T) said today it will launch a new program called "Access from AT&T" that will provide inexpensive home wired internet service to Americans who live in the carrier's 21-state service area and who participate in the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, which used to be called food stamps.
AT&T is offering three basic plans, which will vary based on where customers live:
- 10 Mbps for $10 per month
- 5 Mbps for $10 per month
- 3 Mbps for $5 per month
AT&T is also offering an in-home Wi-Fi modem through the program and access to its 30,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.
In the carrier's fine print, AT&T notes that users will have a 150 GB or 250 GB monthly cap, based on their service plans. "If you exceed your monthly data plan allowance, you will be automatically charged $10 for each 50 GB of data usage in excess of your data plan, even if less than 50 gigabytes is used," the carrier said.
Finally, AT&T said it is also offering access to online learning sites, job searching options and more through its AT&T Digital You portal.
"We're making it easier for more people to connect to friends, family, their communities and the possibilities of the Internet," said Cheryl Choy, AT&T's VP of wired voice and broadband products, in a release. "Access from AT&T is an affordable Internet option available to millions of Americans with limited budgets."
AT&T's offer comes a few months after the carrier closed its acquisition of DirecTV; one of the regulatory conditions of that transaction required AT&T to provide inexpensive broadband at a reasonable price.
AT&T of course is not the only network operator working to bridge the so-called "digital divide" that separates low-income Americans from internet access. For example, Google Fiber said recently it will offer free internet services to thousands of low-income users across its footprint. And Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) continues to offer low-cost internet service under its "Internet Essentials" brand to families with at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program; the program provides 10 Mbps Internet service for $9.95 a month.
The FCC itself continues to work to make internet services available to poor Americans. In March the regulator voted along party lines to upgrade the Lifeline program to enable low-income residents to get broadband access. The vote essentially expands the Lifeline program from voice services to broadband offerings, providing participants with around $10 a month in subsidies for internet services.
- see this AT&T release
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