By Rosa Mendoza Davila, HTTP Executive Director
The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) is pleased to learn that Charter Communications is launching a low-cost broadband option for low-income families and seniors called Spectrum Internet Assist. These two segments of the U.S. population are routinely on the wrong side of the digital divide and a disproportionate number of low-income families are Latino. Programs like these are a crucial step to ensure that low-income families and seniors do not continue to get left behind in the digital age.
The initiative allows low-income families that participate in the National School Lunch program and seniors who receive Supplemental Security Income benefits to receive broadband services for $14.99 per month. The access speed is 30mbps download and 5mbps upload, which exceeds the minimum FCC specification for broadband service. Additionally, the subscriber is not tied to a contract.
In recent years, similar programs have emerged from companies such as AT&T, called the Access Program and Comcast, called Internet Essentials. These programs help to ensure that low-income Latino families have reliable and affordable access to broadband services. Programs like these have a particularly significant impact on the Latino community considering that according to a Pew study released in June 2016, Latinos report broadband subscriptions at a rate of only 46%, which was largely unchanged from numbers reported in 2010 (45%). Contrast this with their white counterparts who subscribe to broadband at a rate of 73%, up 9% from 2010, and the disparity is obvious.
Broadband access has become essential to every aspect of our lives from educational resources for children and access to medical care, to job-related resources for adults. HTTP encourages all companies to act responsibly and enact programs like these to ensure that broadband is not a luxury but an essential utility. If establishing low-cost broadband programs continues to be common practice, it could help more Latino and low-income families have the ability to take advantage of all the breadth of online resources and could take us one step closer to narrowing the digital divide.
2. Broadband subscriptions among Latinos little changed since 2010