TAGHKANIC—The town Broadband Advisory Committee has published “The Guide to Broadband Financial Help” on the town’s website, www.taghkanic.org. The booklet is also available at the Taghkanic Town Hall, 909 US 82, (Post office is Ancram, NY 12502).
The purpose of the publication is to provide low-income households with students and seniors a list of government agencies and private non-profit organizations committed to helping families access discounts on devices and lower communications service fees.
All of the groups listed, save one, require applications and have income guidelines. A sampling of the information in “The Guide to Broadband Financial Help” follows.
• For one-step information EveryoneOn (www.everyoneon.org) offers the most thorough programs. It services households with both students and seniors and offers access to online digital learning centers, discounted internet service fees and devices.
Laptops are available for $85 to $160 and desktops for $110.
EveryoneOn, also, has the most qualifying situations (14) and the most generous maximum income cap at 200% or less of federal poverty guidelines, which translates to $49,000 annual income for a four-person household. An added bonus is its website is easy to navigate
• The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers a government Lifeline program that offers discounted costs for either landline phone service or internet services including broadband and bundled services. The minimum discount offered is $9.25 monthly.
Eligible households must have annual incomes at 135% or less of federal poverty guidelines—$35,370 for a family of four. Or they must participate in one of five federal assistance programs: SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit. Another option is to live on federally recognized Tribal land
• Applying directly to a preferred internet provider is another possibility. Generally they will require Lifeline certification. Xfinity’s Internet Essentials program services students, seniors and families. Both laptops and desktops, and reduced monthly plans are offered. Computers cost $149 and come with Microsoft Office, Norton Security Suite and a 90-day warranty. Monthly plans with internet speeds up to 25 Mbps and free in-home Wi-Fi are $9.95
• Spectrum’s Internet Assist program offers a free modem, no data caps or contracts plus faster internet speed at 30 Mbps for $14.99 per month ($5 more for Wifi) for the first year. To qualify there must be a school-age child participating in the National School Lunch program in the household
• Verizon offers a company discount of $20 monthly on top of the Lifeline monthly discount resulting in a $19.99/month plan at 200 Mbps
• For people who simply need help improving their computer skills, AARP offers TEK Academy for all adults regardless of membership. There is no cost for workshops and AARP provides devices for training including Apple iPads and iPhones, Android Tablets and Smartphones. Call AARP, 888-687-2277 or 866-740-6947, for a calendar of workshops.
According to the advisory committee, the impetus for the financial guide is “Broadband and internet access have become a necessity during this time of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. It provides students with online learning and helps seniors access their telemedicine records and gives people a way to communicate with family and friends during this time of social isolation.”