The American poor will now be able to get cheaper Internet access according to the new provision made by the American federal regulators. Cheaper Internet access for the American poor is a part of the overall package of subsidies being provided to the underprivileged segments of the American population. During the Reagan era discounted telephone services were provided to poor people in America. Internet access is finally becoming a necessity just like telephone, electricity and running water.
Cheaper Internet access will include approximately 40 million Americans who are on food stamps, Medicaid and other federal assistance. They will be able to use broadband service worth $9.25 every month: it can be done either as a part of a voice bundle with a seller or a fixed network or it can be chosen as a standalone Internet browsing package without having a voice plan.
Why provide cheap Internet to the American poor?
According to an estimate, there are more than 5 million people in America who don’t have access to the Internet. There is a slight confusion in this. This Washington Post link says that 13 million poor people in America don’t have access to the Internet. Anyway, that’s beside the point.
An ability to access the Internet is no longer considered to be a luxury, not even in relatively poorer countries like India. Suddenly a whole new world of possibilities opens up when you can access the Internet even on your small mobile phone. You can get news updates. You can access websites providing free education and skills development courses. Not-for-profit organisations can coordinate their work across multiple geographic regions. They can obtain information regarding various government schemes intended to help the poor and the disadvantaged. The need for middlemen can be eliminated if people living in rural areas can know the current market rates of the farm produce they are supplying. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Just as in the olden days, the gap between the educated and the uneducated could make a very big difference in the number of opportunities these 2 segments had, the same is the case with the Internet these days. People are increasingly using the Internet to apply for jobs, take educational courses and look up information online.
The poor in America get subsidies for food and other sustenance necessities. This $9.25 monthly credit for accessing the Internet will be added to their overall subsidies for the American poor.