CenturyLink's (NYSE: CTL) move to offer a $10 a month broadband service to lower income residents is on the surface an effort to increase broadband subscribership. But it's really being driven by a mandate from its recent acquisition of Qwest.
Under the new plan, CenturyLink offers a discounted DSL service with a starting price of $9.95 per month in its 37-state operating area. Delivering up to 1.5 Mbps downstream speeds, the ILEC will offer higher bandwidth services at a similar discount in areas where they are available such as Las Vegas.
Participants in the Internet Basics program will also be eligible to purchase an Internet-ready netbook computer for $150, which includes access to [email protected], a suite of backup, security and support services. And as many lower-income residents might not be familiar with using the Internet, CenturyLink will provide computer education and technology training to these customers.
The first phase of the free computer learning program is starting this fall in Foley, Ala., Dumas, Ark., Eagle, Colo., Tallahassee, Phoenix, Galesburg, Ill., Franklin, Ind., Billings and Great Falls, Mont., Las Vegas, Farmington, N.M, Rockingham, N.C., Lorain, Ohio, Columbia River Gorge, Ore., Greenwood, S.C., Seattle and Yakima, Wash., and Glenwood City, Wis. This program will be expanded to other communities throughout 2012.
The new CenturyLink plan is very similar to what Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) had to agree in completing its acquisition of NBCUniversal. Comcast must offer $10 service to low-income subscribers as one of its provisions of that deal.
However, a DSL Reports article revealed that the provision is really available to a very small portion of people in its serving areas. To qualify, participants have to qualify for the National School Lunch Program, can't have an outstanding balance, and can't currently have or have had service in the last 90 days.
- see the release
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