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Low-income Kern County households may qualify for free internet

Posted at 12:07 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 15:13:55-05

KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KERO) — Most Kern County residents have access to internet but if you look at the numbers, a majority of them live within city limits leaving rural areas in a digital divide.

High costs of service in low-income areas often prohibits residents from accessing the internet at home.

"When you take that, and you think of ways in which AT&T is able to bring that digital divide, it’s the perfect combination to provide free internet service, especially for families who are low-income," said Adrian Quintanilla, Vice President for AT&T SoCal.

According to census data, Bakersfield has a large low-income population in which 73% of public school children receive free or subsidized school lunches.

This makes it an important area for public-private partnership programs between governments, nonprofits, and private telecom companies like AT&T, who understands that in this day and age, families everywhere require access to the internet for work and school.

“That’s one thing that the pandemic introduced, was new ways to connect and school from home. And that is a powerful tool for our residents," said Quintanilla.

Recently AT&T announced a new plan that would provide free internet to eligible households. The option is made possible by combining the access from AT&T program with the affordable connectivity program.

The program is available for households within 200% or less than the federal poverty guidelines.

If a household qualifies, they can get internet speeds at about four times faster than the Federal Trade Commission’s definition of broadband service with no data caps for $30 per month, discounted to $0 per month under the program.

“This is high speed internet, internet that is 100 megabits per second.”

Households that qualify can take advantage of the program by applying for the affordable connectivity program and calling 855-220-5211 after verifying eligibility.