Internet service provider CenturyLink Inc. is celebrating Older Americans Month by offering its Internet-basics program to improve broadband adoption and use by qualifying older, low-income consumers in the Hinesville area.
The goal of the program is to reduce broadband cost barriers for economically disadvantaged consumers, including older Americans whose Internet adoption rates continue to lag behind the rates of other demographic groups.
According to recent data from Pew Research, older and less affluent Americans are largely disconnected from the world of digital tools and services, both physically and psychologically.
Approximately 68 percent of Americans in their early 70s use the Internet, and 55 percent have broadband at home.
By contrast, Internet adoption falls to 47 percent and broadband adoption falls to 34 percent among 75- to 79-year-olds.
In particular, those who are 80 or older, those with low household incomes and those who have not attended college tend to be much more removed from online life.
To help get more older Americans online, CenturyLink is offering discounted high-speed Internet service to eligible consumers in Hinesville.
Starting at $9.95 per month, plus applicable taxes and fees, consumers will receive download speeds of up to 1.5 megabits per second.
Higher bandwidth services, where available, are offered at a comparable discount.
“We are happy to offer affordable high-speed Internet service to seniors who might need help getting online, because we believe the Internet can be a vital part of keeping up-to-date on news, events and products, as well as keeping in touch with family and friends, both near and far,” said Durand Standard, CenturyLink’s vice president and general manager for South Carolina and Georgia.
Participation in the program is determined by the criteria for the Lifeline Affordable Telephone Service, a federal program offered by CenturyLink that provides discounts on basic monthly telephone service to eligible low-income consumers.
Although the criteria are the same, residents are not required to have Lifeline service in order to obtain the Internet-basics service; however, residents must qualify for one of 11 federal programs to get the discounted Internet services:
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps)
• Supplemental Security Income
• Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
• Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
• Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
• National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program
• Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
• Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
• Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
• Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met)
CenturyLink also is offering program participants an Internet-ready netbook computer for $150, plus taxes, shipping and handling. The new equipment includes access to CenturyLink@Ease, a comprehensive suite of backup, security and support services.
According to a Broadband Expanded study on broadband adoption by senior citizens, broadband use will become increasingly important as the senior population in the United States continues to grow in coming decades.
The senior population is expected to more than double by 2050, totaling 88.5 million and comprising 20 percent of the total U.S. population. Nearly 15 percent of households without home Internet access cite the lack of an adequate computer as the main reason for not adopting broadband service, according to the report.
Programs that educate older adults on the benefits of broadband and train them to effectively use this technology while providing affordable Internet service can help spur broadband adoption among this segment of the population.