NCTA Pitches Half-Price Broadband to Middle-Schooler Homes


The National Cable & Telecommunications Assocation is proposing to offer low-income families with middle school kids half price broadband service and half-price modems for two years, plus free installation.

That comes after discussions with Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski and broadband adviser Blair Levin about ways to boost adoption. The plan is part of a pilot program, labeled A+ for Adoption Plus, a public-private partnership to boost adoption by familes of middle school students (grades 6-9) in low-income households.

The announcement is expected to be made at a 1 p.m. press conference today at which Levin is expected to express his support.

"Cable providers represented by NCTA which offer broadband service to 86% of U.S. households have agreed to participate in the program," NCTA said in announcing the move, "which, with full student participation, could reach a value of $572 million over the two years of the program."

As part of the public-private partnership, School districts would have to provide federal funded digital media literacy training, something NCTA has been pushing for.

Eligible households will need to meet three criteria: participants must be middle school students, must be eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, and must not currently recieve Internet service.

The proposal was detailed in a filing being submitted to the FCC today on its national broadband plan.

"The FCC is a strong supporter of NCTA's proposal," said an FCC source close to the broadband team.

The proposal has also been submitted to the National Telecommunications & Information Administration and Rural Utilities Service in comments on its next round of funding. Both are handing out broadband stimulus money, including for spurring adoption.

NCTA said the A+ proposal contemplates that school districts would be eligible for an estimated $100 million of federal funding required over the two years of the program to defray the cost of providing digital media literacy training and other administrative tasks.

The program also anticipates a discount on computers, funded by computer manufacturers and federal funds