For a number of years, cable companies have made low-cost internet available to low-income families with children who qualify for the National School Lunch program.
As it became clear in mid-March that COVID-19 would impact education – and Texas public schools are now online only for the foreseeable future – cable operators stepped up their programs to make sure that learning would not be interrupted for students from kindergarten to college. In addition, companies also have opened their Wi-Fi hotspots to all, which expands broadband access.
The cable industry has invested more than $300 million nationally in broadband adoption programs since their inception, connecting more than 1.5 million families in the United States. Through these initiatives, cable companies provide discounted Internet services, hardware, digital literacy training, and technology centers across the country to increase accessibility and help close the digital divide.
See what each TCA cable member is doing in response to COVID-19 to expand education offerings:
Altice USA, which provides Suddenlink services
- For households with K-12 and/or college students who may be displaced due to school closures and who do not currently have home internet access, Altice USA is offering its Altice Advantage 30 Mbps broadband solution for free for 60 days to new customer households within our footprint. Eligible households can call 888-633-0030 to enroll in the Suddenlink region, which includes Texas.
Charter Communications, which provides Spectrum services
- Charter will significantly expand access to high speed broadband for households that include K-12 and college students, and it is working with school districts and public libraries on remote learning opportunities.
- Free Spectrum Internet Assist service, with speeds of 30 Mbps, is available for low income families who are not already enrolled in the program.
- Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband at any service level up to 100 Mbps (or 200 Mbps in certain markets) and Wi-Fi access to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. A free self-installation kit will be provided to new subscriber households. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395.
- Charter in late March expanded the eligibility for its 60-day free offer of broadband and Wi-Fi access to include educators (K-12 teachers and college/university professors) who do not already have a Spectrum account.
- A map of all Spectrum Wi-Fi hot spots is available here: Spectrum.com/WiFi-Hotspots
Comcast, which provides Xfinity services
- Comcast has made it even easier for low-income families who live in a Comcast service area to sign-up for Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. New customers will receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month.
- For all new and existing Internet Essentials customers, the speed of the program’s Internet service was increased to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. That increase will go into effect for no additional fee and it will become the new base speed for the program going forward.
- Comcast has created new educational collections for all grade levels in partnership with Common Sense Media. Just say “education” into the X1 or Flex voice remote. To help keep customers informed, Comcast also has created a collection of the most current news and information on coronavirus. Just say “coronavirus” into the X1 or Flex voice remote.
- A map of Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots can be found at xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots, and then launch a browser.
Sparklight, formerly Cable One
- A 15 Mbps internet plan for $10 per month is available for the next 60 days to help low income families and those most impacted from coronavirus challenges, such as seniors and college students. No documentation will be required to sign up for this plan.
- Sparklight stands ready to support critical infrastructure with speed upgrades and other requests to ensure ongoing and reliable service for local educators and health care professionals, including customers under federal rural healthcare and E-rate programs.