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AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) Rolls Out Low Cost Internet for Low-Income Households

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AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) has announced plans to provide Internet service to low-income households under the ‘Access from AT&T’ banner. Interestingly, this is wireline Internet and it seems that it was smart of the firm to make an announcement exactly when a section of the wireline business workers of its main rival Verizon are on strike. Before this, the firm was busy pushing DirecTV for the prior few weeks. This new program is aimed at ultimately bringing in more people online. As the firm heads toward releasing its Q1 2016 earnings after the market closes today, investors are hoping that the firm posts good growth in the number of subscribers.

AT&T Inc. Gives a Taste of the Online World to Needy Homes

While there obviously does exist some eligibility criteria for determining whether a home qualifies for getting a connection under this program, the speeds offered are not exactly stellar. Those who do qualify will be given the fastest of 3 levels, i.e. 3 Mbps, 5 Mbps and 10 Mbps, subject to availability and technical feasibility at the location. In other words, going purely by the maximum bit rate offered, it is more or less similar to peak data transfer speeds seen in 3G (wireless) connections. So while high-definition video conferencing is out of the question (and not usually needed in case of homes), regular surfing, VoIP calls and downloading DVDs (not Blu-rays) should be smooth. This will allow first-time netizens to get a taste of what the Internet can offer them.

Plans which offer speeds of 5 Mbps and 10 Mbps will cost $10 a month, whereas those offering a speed of 3Mbps will cut $5 from the monthly household budget. The firm has also said that they will waive the installation charges for the connection. In addition, equipment fees too will be waived off. Such equipment usually includes a modem/router of some kind depending on the technology used in the connection. However, on top of these $5 and $10, additional taxes and fees may apply. It is believed that these plans will not offer unlimited data. The highest amount of free data usage is believed to be 600 GBs in a month. Above this, overage charges will apply.

So who exactly is eligible? In the household, there should be at least one resident who is enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. And of course, the home itself should be present in one of the 21 states where the firm offers Internet service to homes.

Executives Share their Views

The firm’s vice president of wired voice and broadband products, Cheryl Choy said that this is being done in order to make it easier for people to connect with each other and to get a first-hand experience of what change the Internet can bring in their lives. He added that they are hoping to reach out to millions of Americans having limited budgets with this program.

EveryoneOn is a non-profit which has similar aims of bridging the gap between those who are online and those who are not yet. Their CEO Chike Aguh said that having an Internet connection in a home can change life a lot. He mentioned several use cases such as completing homework online to applying for jobs to getting in touch with near and dear ones to drive home the point of the Internet being a necessity for all in the USA. He expressed faith in programs such as Access from AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) as being enablers in order to realize that aim.

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Hiren Mehta

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