UPPER EAST SIDE — Low income families and seniors can now access high-speed internet for much less than the going rate, thanks to a new offering by Charter.
Starting Thursday, eligible residents can sign up for Charter's Spectrum Internet Assist at 30 megabytes per second for $14.99 per month. Those who seek wireless service would need to add $5 and tax to the cost.
The new service is meant to "bridge the digital divide" and bring the "absolute necessity" to those who haven't been able to afford it until now, according to Public Advocate Letitia James, who announced the service on Thursday at the Stanley Isaacs Community Center with Councilman Ben Kallos — both spearheaded the push for more affordable internet.
Charter's lead offer for residential high-speed internet at 100MB is $44.99 a month.
Stanley Isaacs resident Ron Riley, 41, said that he'll now be able to afford internet access instead of relying on his smartphone. His son has a learning disability and frequently uses the phone's internet to watch educational videos.
"This is going to help get him online so he can watch YouTube and the programs he watches to learn," Riley told DNAinfo New York. "This will help me take care of him."
Otherwise, Riley relies on his internet hotspot device, but it's very slow, he said.
Resident Etchri Kudadje, 76, has been wanting to get online at the urging of his nieces and nephews, who tell him he's got to "forget about old timer business."
"With Supplemental Security Income, I bring in no more than $10,000 a year, so how could I afford the internet plus my expenses?" he said. "This is affordable and now I can pay my bills online and on time."
The majority of those who use services at the Isaacs Center will be eligible, according to Gregory Morris, the center's president and executive director.
In order to be eligible, seniors must be 65 years or old and get Supplemental Security Income.
Other applicants must have students who participate in the National School Lunch Program.
Charter won't need a credit check in order to offer services but any outstanding debt with the company must be paid first.
The affordable service is available in Charter's service area, which includes Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, and some properties in Brooklyn, and will be rolled out market-by-market by mid-2017.