WHAT TO KNOW
- Charter Spectrum will offer elderly and low-income New Yorkers affordable high-speed internet connection, city council members said Thursday
- Spectrum Internet Assist will cost $14.99 a month, and includes standard features like email inboxes and modem at no additional charge
- Nearly half of senior citizens 65 or older in New York City are without a broadband connection at home
Elderly and low-income New Yorkers will soon have access to affordable high-speed internet, thanks to a new product from Charter Communications.
Spectrum Internet Assist offers qualifying seniors and families high-speed broadband internet for $14.99 a month. Standard features like email inboxes, internet security software and a modem are included for free.
Public Advocate Letitia James and City Councilman Ben Kallos announced the initiative at the Stanley Issacs Community Center on East 93rd Street Thursday.
"Access to affordable high-speed internet should not be a luxury reserved for few -- it is increasingly important for everyone to have access in today's society," said James. "New Yorkers young and old depend on internet access for basic life functions but too often do not have access in their own homes because services are truly cost prohibitive."
The initiative seeks to bridge the digital divide between those with access to high-speed connections and the 730,000 households in New York City that don't have broadband internet at home.
Eligible participants include families with students who participate in the National School Lunch Program and seniors who are 65 and older who receive Supplementary Security Income program benefits.
Prospective Spectrum Internet Assist enrollees can't have a Charter, Time Warner Cable, or Bright House Networks broadband subscription within 30 days of signing up. Eligible participants won't need to undergo a credit check, but they'll have to clear any outstanding debt from the past 12 months with the aforementioned networks.
Although the city has made steps to close the technology gap through initiatives like public charging stations and Wi-fi hot spots, it's still got a long way to go before achieving internet equality. Roughly 36 percent of households in the Bronx and 45 percent of seniors 65 years or older are without a broadband connection at home, according to a 2014 study by Comptroller Scott Stringer.