Discounted broadband and computers for participants of school lunch program

Is access to the Internet with broadband speed now a right? There is no information provided in the story to let us know if this is a program fully funded by Internet service providers or if the federal government is subsidizing the program.

The FCC has announced selected Internet providers will be providing broadband Internet access – to families who qualify for the school lunch program – for $10 per month. From Reuters.

[T]he public-private initiative will see cable providers including Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable Inc and Cablevision Systems Corp offer Internet service at a fraction of the national average price of $45 a month, an FCC official said.

Eligible families will be able to sign up for the service during a three-year period starting in the spring in some areas, with the offer going nationwide by next September to coincide with the school year.

“Providing our children with a quality education requires much more than the teaching and learning that takes place inside of the classroom,” said Michael Powell, head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

Families can enjoy the discounted rate for two years.

The FCC estimates the retail value of the discounted high-speed Internet service being made available to roughly 25 million Americans at around $4 billion.

There is a “broadband gap”, the federal government needs to “close it.”

Now, if a private company wants to give a deal to someone, that’s their business. But I do have a problem with the federal government setting the guidelines as to who gets the deal. The program is being defined as a “public-private initiative” which is not defined. What did the FCC do to get this deal?

Why should families who do not have kids enrolled in the school lunch program be left out of this deal? Heck, why should I be left out of this deal?

There was more than 31 million total participants in the National School Lunch Program in 2009. Of course that program is totally unconstitutional, but it will be used to determine who gets cheap broadband access. Let’s say there is an average of two children per family, so that means about 15 million families would be eligible to participate. At a savings of more than $800 for the two year period, that works out to be a program valued at more than $12 billion (assuming all eligible can and will take part) but the FCC estimates the program value at $4 billion.

Tina Korbe at Hot Air asks…

Are subsidies a part of this? In store for the future? This Reuters article (and others I’ve read) make no mention of what the cable companies will receive in return — but no cost-conscious company would offer the discounted rates for nothing. The FCC estimates the retail value of the discounted high-speed Internet service at around $4 billion.

39 replies
  1. Common Man
    Common Man says:

    Wait until gov’t mandated free computers to use the discounted service. Oh wait, they are already poor and as reported earlier this year the poor have computers & flat screen tvs (don’t know if they have wifi built in though). So what were they using the computers for, paperweights? Maybe the dial up is so slow those free diapers from Rosa DeLauro, D-CT would come in handy. I thought public libraries already had free broadband to use. When does it end? If gas gets too expensive will they mandate free electric cars? You know what happens to these ‘poor’ folks who receive all this aid? They’re still poor because they haven’t learned to fend for themselves.

  2. crystal4
    crystal4 says:

    I don’t see a problem with this. I read where some company will sell refurbished laptops for $150 to these families that qualify. Also people with overdue cable bills will be excluded. The $10/mo. they collect from these households would be money they would not get. What is it costing them…nothing. What is mit costing you…nothing.
    As far as the guidelines being a child/children enrolled in the school lunch program, that ensures that this deal is going to indigent children. Today, kids without internet access gives them a real disadvantage in terms of future educational opportunities or job skills. This would help the future economy, wouldn’t it?
    When I turned on the news this am, I heard CT Superintendents have met and are promoting pre-school and all day kindergarten for everyone. NOW THAT I have a problem with! Why should our property taxes go up to pay for other peoples’ daycare??

    • GdavidH
      GdavidH says:

      Crystal, I don’t agree that this is ” money they would not get”.

      Fact: % of students in?Torrington eligible for free or reduced lunch=32.87%
      http://www.zipdatamaps.com/06790

      This number indicates to me that?it is pretty easy to qualify.?

      I know kids, children of home owners, who receive free lunch. Of these kids, I don’t know any that DO NOT have computers and broadband service in their homes. I’m sure there are some, but considering the facebook activity and e-mail lists I’ve seen, they are a minority. This is going to turn into a discount for these people when they apply and qualify?for the service they already pay for.??????

    • Common Man
      Common Man says:

      @ crystal4
      The problem is when the gov’t get involved and ‘mandates’ (required to pay/raise taxes). Any private company wishing to supply service of their own accord is welcome to do so & I think it’s a good thing. But when the gov’t say they need to do it, that’s when I take exception. North Carolina is starting all day school in pre-k because learning is so rapid at that age. My daughter is doing 1st grade work in kindergarten. It costs me $2400 to send her to all-day kindergarten, but I see it as an investment. I surely could use that money elsewhere too. If everyone is SO supportive of education, why not start earlier. It’s a double edge sword with you. It’s ok to help some folks but if it helps everyone evenly then it’s not ok. You can’t have it both ways.

    • lizzieswish
      lizzieswish says:

      This would be fine if all those “needy” were really in need.? As a teacher for 35 years I can assure you that too many kids are getting a free lunch/free breakfast/etc!? There is nothing like a kid wearing $100 sneakers, whose mom drives a Lexus him to school in her Lexus, wolfing down his free lunch, while poor Jenny, whose folks are struggling, nibbles on a peanutbutter sandwich. ? Then there are the kids who complain about free breakfast being boring? since it tends to be cereal !? The kids who really need the free breakfast never get it because all too often they are the kids who always arrive at school tardy because nobody woke them up.? Anything free is? rarely appreciated.? How about providing the internet access at a reduced rate instead?? Or asking the schools to stay open an extra hour or so? for a homework lab so kids who don’t have internet at home could complete assignments in school?? There are numerous other possibilities!

      • zedgar2
        zedgar2 says:

        Lizzieswish speaks the sad truth. More government boondoggles where people who are not really in need pile on to get free or reduced price goods and services. The ideas always sound great in theory but in practice they prove to be extremely wasteful because of abuses by either recipients who shouldn’t be eligible or by providers who find ways to get more revenue than they should out of the program.

    • kateinmaine
      kateinmaine says:

      actually, it’s not $10 that they wouldn’t have.? the real costs of setting up the account, installing the equipment, monthly billing and equipment/system maintenance far outstrip the token fee.? and that doesn’t even consider the cost of content.? it’s really $90 + per month/per account that they are losing.? who finances that ‘investment’?? existing customers.? if they spun it as a marketing gimmick, it might carry water–but even then, sentient people would wonder, and rightfully so, why they should pay $100/mo. if the real price is $10.? that will result in loss of customers.? which will translate into loss of jobs.? yep, no cost at all.
      in many states school lunch programs are mandatory for all students (kind of like the tarp bailouts–everyone has to take them, regardless of need–but i digress)–so that the needy kids don’t feel badly about themselves.? if all kids are enrolled in school lunch, how do you determine who is most vulnerable, internet-wise?? tax returns?? neighborhoods?? voter registration??
      many states already provide laptops to public school students–why even ‘backwards’ maine is providing ipads for kindergartners in lewiston and laptops for all other students across the state.?…

      • kateinmaine
        kateinmaine says:

        they also have lightning fast internet available for their learning/studies.? at school.? why do they need it at home?? particularly as the plan is to turn schools into foster programs, relegating home to the place where you sleep and pick up clean clothes. . .
        now for modern reality–many have learned how useful computers and internet are without power.? it might be prudent for students to learn how to function without these things, too–that might be the best preparation of all!? like my old trig teacher would puckishly intone, ‘the god of batteries will always get you. . .’

  3. Plainvillian
    Plainvillian says:

    First shouldn’t we question the quality of education since the advent of the Department of Education?? Could we then then discuss the educational quality enhancement of universal broadband access in the home?? Is this a liberal solution to another nonexistent problem while gaining further control and fostering dependency??

  4. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    People live in rural areas of the US as well as in the megalopolis of the North East. This program would bring access to areas that currently do not have “decent” internet access. I think it’s a good idea. Many moons ago there was another program called the Rural Electrification Program. Was that bad too?
    ?

    • GdavidH
      GdavidH says:

      This says nothing about getting access to people who don’t have access. It is about a another handout. It is about lowering the cost of service to a class of families.

      The FCC has announced selected Internet providers will be providing broadband Internet access ? to families who qualify for the school lunch program ? for $10 per month?

      • GdavidH
        GdavidH says:

        Forgot the quotations for pasting the line from the story.

        “The FCC has announced selected Internet providers will be providing broadband Internet access ? to families who qualify for the school lunch program ? for $10 per month?”

  5. Gary J
    Gary J says:

    ?Hey guy, most of us have high speed internet so that makes it a constitutional right for every American and Non American. If you can buy lobster and steak with food stamps you damn well aught to have $10 high speed internet OMG $10, they should cut it ti $1

  6. Eric
    Eric says:

    I’m never more amazed then when I hear about another one of these “nanny state” programs being rolled out, and ever so compassionately in the name of fairness and all that’s descent in the world. ?What a stupid idea! ?Our kids would be a lot smarter if we got rid of our bleeding heart liberals. ?Then maybe we could get back to teaching kids how to succeed in life rathe then putting them on the public dole and creating yet another generation of moochers. ?God save us! ??

    • crystal4
      crystal4 says:

      Wow. This is a private company offering a discounted rate for indigent kids (they are using the school lunch program for qualifications). This has nothing to do with whether the parents are able to work or not..they have nothing to do with their parents circumstances or choices.
      Picture this, your child was told to research a topic for a paper and you have no pc/internet while others in his class are working on their laptops.
      Oh, wait, they can walk out in the cold and go to the library…maybe their will be a pc free before 8pm…and just maybe they can get it done within the 1 hour you are allowed…and maybe they won’t get hit by a car walking home in the dark…honestly!
      ?
      ?

      • Benjamin Less
        Benjamin Less says:

        crystal4 said, “Oh, wait, they can walk out in the cold and go to the library?maybe their will be a pc free before 8pm?”
        And I walked 1.5 miles to school every single day, sun, snow or rain [re: 3 miles round-trip].?
        What is up with these wimpy children now-a-days?? EVERYONE I grew up with went to the library on FOOT, not dropped off by their mom or dad and …not coddled by special entitlements. ? No wonder children in the USA have become marginally obese and pilled death.? If a child is given a project to research on a subject …and the only available way to research this subject is by going to the library …then that’s also a part of the complete learning experience.?
        “I think we’d all benefit from the return of tall monkey bars.? Playgrounds are the perfect place to begin learning about risk, reward and personal limits.”

      • Sal
        Sal says:

        Crystal if they can’t get to a computer at the library maybe they could look it up in a book wait I know they might get a paper cut turning the pages.
        And getting hit by a car walking home in the dark?????Are they walking in the streets or are cars driving on the sidewalk?So what do we need a law saying kids can’t be out after sunset?

      • winnie
        winnie says:

        Seriously?? Kids no longer can walk out in the cold?? As far as an hour time limit I don’t know what library you go to, but there is no time limit at our town library.? The benefit of using a pc at the library is that they could also actually get reference materials from BOOKS.
        It’s a freaking miracle that any of us survived childhood according to Crystal.? I would ride my bike to the library (4 miles one way), before safety helmets were “required by law”.? So, now kids are so dainty that they cannot walk or ride a bike anywhere?? There were very few obese children back in the 70s & 80s…and gee, what happened to the concept of carpooling with other parents?? Seems to be alive and well in my community.
        ?

  7. winnie
    winnie says:

    I really don’t know *how* we managed without broadband speed internet from the 1970s-1990s (my frame of reference).? How did we do research and projects for school?? How did we survive without facebook and IM?? I dunno…sometimes I curse technology even though so much has been accomplished because of it.? I miss my old typewriter with the ribbon, my old rotary dial phone, kids not being wired to everything in their lives.? It seems like our society was a better one when people communicated directly rather than thru internet connections.
    I thought it “takes a village”…are they telling us now that all it “takes is internet”?

  8. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    The PC and the Internet are part of our daily lives. You can’t put them “back in the bottle”. Winnie would like to go back to rotary phones etc., and Benjamin Less bemoans the fact that he walked 1.5 miles to school (probably uphill both ways). WE? wanted to make things better/easier for our children: yes or no? Now we want to them back?? Please……..

    • winnie
      winnie says:

      Easier is not necessarily better, and “better” isn’t necessarily better.? It all depends upon one’s perceptions.? My point is that once upon a time, people were taught critical thinking skills and didn’t *need* the internet to function in the world, and there certainly weren’t government mandates that push the premise that every child *needs* broadband internet access.? I believe that technology has helped many professions but has probably hurt just as many.? Who needs a secretary/admin. asst. anymore when there’s Dragon speech recognition software?? In many cases technology has displaced the human factor and I don’t think I’m an idiot to “bemoan” that fact.
      And perhaps a good portion of the young adult population is lazy and ill equipped for the real world because everything has been so “easy” for them (the 99%?).? Just sayin’s all.

  9. JBS
    JBS says:

    Wow, has this post touched a nerve! I would like to follow the money on this one.
    Who will benefit? Well, the broadband service providers, for one. Yes, they will be signing up some people who can’t afford the average $45/month to get Internet services now. But, how many households is that? Would some of the households who already have Internet cancel their accounts and take advantage of the $10 deal?
    So, these free-lunch households get $10 Internet. What then? Will some users there troll the porno sites? How many of them will be children? Will the students ever get to use the Internet to research school assignments? Many teachers who give those assignments will tell you that more than a few students simply print out their “research” complete with URL and hand it in as their own! Some cut and paste, still plagiarizing. Only a few students, college material no doubt, actually synthesize researched information into their own writing. How about the quality? For one thing, books are not published online available for research. And, WEB research is notoriously incomplete.
    Quality product for students wanting to learn? The Internet is a good place to start; it is not an authoritative…

  10. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Winnie, come on!! YOU can teach critical thinking skills if YOU want to. So can everybody else, if they take PERSONAL responsibility for what their children do/see. I will not advocate a world w/o the Internet, the PC, the cell phone etc., etc. Some of you sound like “Luddites”, but you are happy to have oodles of shares in Apple Corp, Microsoft, Amazon and on and on… which are here because some Americans were inventive enough to bring their products to market!

    • winnie
      winnie says:

      Sammy, I’m going to use a technique used by another on this blog and enumerate my points:
      1) I have taught my children to question what they hear and what they’re taught.? That = critical thinking skills.? School certainly isn’t going to do that, is it?
      2) I have always taken responsibility for what my children do/see.
      3) If you choose to be hardwired to every gadget known to mankind, that’s your choice.? I’m still entitled to my opinion.
      4) My cell is a pay/go used for emergencies & to keep in contact with my kids when I’m away from home.
      5) I own no shares in Apple, Microsoft or Amazon.
      I live my life based on my beliefs.? And one of my beliefs is that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used because the gov. tells us that kids *need* broadband internet.? How’s that for critical thinking?

  11. Tim-in-Alabama
    Tim-in-Alabama says:

    After they get the internets, they’re gonna need a heap o’ computers so they’ll have something with which to pirate music and post about how much they hate capitalism.

  12. crystal4
    crystal4 says:

    Ok, I give up. No internet for these children for homework.
    “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

  13. Benjamin Less
    Benjamin Less says:

    If you read between the lines, NSLP reflects 2/3rds of their recipients come from female-headed households.? To qualify for Free Lunch it’s determined by 185% or below the national poverty level.? So let’s do the math.? The national poverty level for a family of 2 is $14,710? x? 185% equals an income of $27,213 a year.? You can get free lunch with a mom making $27k a year.? That’s 1 child.? $34k with 2 children, etc.? I would be in favour of allowing these children the internet if social services performed a residential audit of the dwellings prior.?? That would never happen.
    Back to the internet question at hand and school work as the pretext to “hook-up” no pun intended
    …do you really believe for a second that a child in these households would be using the computer with broadband for school work?? I dunno about anyone else here, but add most any child to computer and you get on-line gaming and “other” activities.? If a child is really THAT hard-up needing a computer which would “make of break” passing a class? …there is something wrong with the school curriculum, that school’s library resources and the teaching staff.
    ?
    http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib17/eib17.pdf

  14. JollyRoger
    JollyRoger says:

    I just had some school lunches during the power outage- thanks to CL&P and Governor Blackout Malloy!? I was shocked at all of the posters promoting good nutrition, but the food was certifiable crap!? Processed hot pockets or hotdogs with rice and a boiled vegetable.? An overstaffed commercial kitchen with pots and pans hanging everywhere, and they’re using a toaster oven and boiling all of the nutrition out of the vegetable.? I brought some home for the dog, she preferred her dog food 🙂

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      All government programs are prone (obligated?) to produce certifiable crap.? It is just more tangible with the school lunch program.

      • Dimsdale
        Dimsdale says:

        Sounds like he returned it, after the fact of course.
        ?
        Is it still a “handout” if the apparent need was a result of government (town/state) fecklessness in trimming the trees?? There’s never enough money to do the job right, but always plenty to fix the problem after the disaster has occurred.

  15. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Doing the job “right” will likely require money (dare I say more taxes). Crystal4 has already addressed that non-starter.

  16. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Yea, I know Dims. Tree trimming just happens or it’s done for free in the fantasy world of the Republicans.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      I think you miss my point: no, trimming is far from free, but the costs associated with repairing wires, clearing roads, etc. far exceeds that required for preventative trimming, but the money always appears after the fact, not before.? Things only get done in an emergency, not before.? The towns or whoever are reactive, not proactive.? They always find the money to fix the bigger, after the fact issue, but can’t seem to dredge up the smaller costs for preventative trimming.
      ?
      In a word: stupid.

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