For sale: Broadband Internet. Cost: $10

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

Wednesday, November 9, 2011.

Does that day sound like it should go down as one of the most memorable 24 hours in American history? Well, unless you gave birth or got married on this day, my guess is no.

But maybe it should. No, really. Maybe 100 years from now, all of the kids with their floating cars and teleportation devices will look back on that date as the day an announcement came that would ultimately change the lives of most everybody in the wonderful collection of land we call the United States of America. Why would that possibly happen, you ask? From The Associated Press …

“Cable companies said Wednesday that they will offer Internet service for $9.95 per month to homes with children that are eligible for free school lunches,” the wire service wrote Wednesday. “The offer will start next summer and is part of an initiative the Federal Communications Commission cobbled together to get more U.S. homes connected to broadband.”

Did you know that one-thrid of all the homes in this country are without a broadband Internet connection? I didn’t, either. According to the same article, that equals about 35 million homes that operate without a viable Internet connection. That’s got to be way more than you anticipated, right? Right. Even more intriguing: this is an initiative that cable giant Comcast has already begun offering to the same qualifying households.

It’s true: Even people without much money can watch Glenn Back 24 hours a day!

Now to why we care: with Comcast already on board and the FCC stepping in to see this plan through, it is now safe to say that most everybody who wants it in this country will (hopefully) be able afford a broadband Internet connection. More people with Web access means more people utilizing the various forms of television-centric options the Internet continues to provide, which in turn means more people will read this blog regularly to see what they can find in terms of online TV.

Oh, let a boy dream, won’t you?

Anyways, the initiative is is called Connect-to-Compete and it also includes Microsoft (remember them?!), which says it will begin selling products at an extremely low price to the same qualifying families. Insert your own Microsoft-had-to-start-selling-their-products-at-a-low-price-for-people-to begin-buying-them again-joke here. Exactly how cheap does the tech company plan to sell their PCs? $250 (and that even includes the always-necessary Office suite so many computer-users adore). Redemtech, some company slightly less relevant than Microsoft, is planning to add the proverbial cherry on top by selling refurbished machines to those same families for a mere $150. And to think all of this includes shipping! Morgan Stanley is even chipping in by saying it wants to develop a lending program for those who can’t afford those prices.

So … this is interesting. A broadband Internet connection is almost as essential to watching television on the Web as a monitor (what — you really think you could do this stuff with a dial-up connection? Wait. Do dial-up connections even exist anymore?). Putting more computers in the hands of those who may not have had the resources to acquire such technology suggests the idea of people using the Internet as their sole source for TV programming is even closer than some may have previously thought. Or, if you insist on being dismissive about the whole thing, this can’t hurt the argument that TV-watching is growing further and further away from an actual, honest-to-goodness TV.

The move comes after a reported decline in broadband popularity. According to the AP article, the service’s growth has slowed down a bit in recent years, though that could be offset by the notion that those who want it, already have it, and at some point, the number of people utilizing it would have to stop growing as rapidly as it once did. It’s a law of averages principle, really.

In light of that, all major cable companies say that they stand firmly behind this move (though if you are reading this and happen to not subscribe to a “major cable company,” you might want to find out how you can obtain access to one). They also claim that they are going to install the modem rental for free, which is a move aimed at offsetting the cost of taxes these new purchases may generate. The offer will be available for the next two years and the minimum download speed with be 1 megabit per second.

Or, in other words, I would like to personally welcome the 35 million homes that may have not been able to access this blog before to the world of living a life featuring the perks of television without owning a TV. Feel free to poke around through past entries and leave as many comments as you like. Be sure to keep an eye out for the incredible-tastic Netflix Pix feature at the beginning of every month — I hear it’s a doozy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011, friends. Remember this was the day we found out the perks of technology would eventually become fiscally reasonable for us all. Now if we could only get Netflix to go back to that old streaming package all of us used to love…


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