AT&T is the latest ISP to introduce packages tailored for qualified low-income homes.
It’s a move that satisfies a condition of AT&T’s merger with DirecTV, which closed last July. Among those targeted conditions, the FCC called on AT&T to provide discounted standalone broadband offerings to low-income consumers in its wireline service area.
The new program, called Access from AT&T, supports three different speed tiers – 10 Mbps down/1.5 Mbps up, 5 Mbps down/1.5 Mbps up, and 3 Mbps down/1 Mbps upstream. The 10-meg and 5-meg options will cost $10 per month, while the 3 Mbps tier will sell for $5 per month.
Per a Web site about the program, service availability and speed will vary by address, though AT&T said it will assign customers the fastest of the speed tiers available at their particular address.
Access to the program is limited to homes within AT&T’s 21-state wireline high-speed internet footprint with at least one resident participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). AT&T has set up a Web site where consumers can access a SNAP application.
AT&T said it will also waive installation and Internet equipment fees to homes participating in the program. The program includes an in-home WiFi modem and access to about 30,000 AT&T WiFi hotspots.
Per the fine print, the services will also be subject to AT&T’s monthly data policy (150 gigabytes or 250 GB depending on the speed tier. If users exceed those ceilings during the month, they’ll be charged $10 for each additional bucket of 50 GB.
Update: Starting May 23, monthly data allowances for U-verse customers will increase. At that time, Access from AT&T speeds will include a monthly data allowance of either 150 GB, 300 GB or 600 GB of data per month, depending on the type and speed of service those customers receive, said the company, which is also set to launch new unlimited data plans.
“We’re making it easier for more people to connect to friends, family, their communities and the possibilities of the Internet,” said Cheryl Choy, vice president wired voice and broadband products at AT&T, in a statement. “Access from AT&T is an affordable Internet option available to millions of Americans with limited budgets.”
Update: AT&T's launch was also praised by FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. “Our noble goal of connecting communities with affordable broadband alternatives, will ultimately be realized through targeted and innovative initiatives, both public and private," she said, in a statement. "This is why I am pleased to witness the launch of Access from AT&T, an affordable broadband option open to any member of a household that participates in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. I look forward to seeing how this program helps to close the opportunity divide by getting more consumers and communities connected to high speed Internet services.”
AT&T joins other ISPs that offer similar programs.
For example, Comcast has Internet Essentials, a voluntary commitment linked to its acquisition of NBCUniversal, provides high-speed Internet service (up to 10 Mbps downstream) to those who qualify for $9.95 per month, plus computer equipment (less than $150) and free Internet training. Last month, Comcast announced that the program connects more than 600,000 low-income families.
Cox Communications has more than 160,000 people on board with Conenct2Compete, its offering for qualified low-income homes that also costs $9.95 per month.