It's not quite as cheap as NetZero's short-lived free dial-up service that was popular in the late 1990s and completely supported by ads, but the FCC's plan to bring affordable broadband service to low income families is a whole lot faster, and ironically enough is even less expensive than NetZero's current "accelerated" dial-up service, which runs $14.95 a month.
But this isn't about picking on NetZero or dial-up service in general. This is about bringing low-cost broadband service to families that would otherwise have a bear of time paying for or justifying fast Internet. Under the FCC's plan, low-income families with children eligible for the National School Lunch Program will be eligible to sign a two-year service agreement to receive broadband Internet for $9.95/month. That's a flat rate price that won't be hiked up by installation fees, activation fees, or modem rental fees.
Several ISPs have agreed to participate, including Bend Cable, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Eagle Communications, GCI, Insight, Mediacom, Midcontinent, Sjoberg's Cable, Suddenlink, and Time Warner Cable.
The FCC called the plan and widespread support a "big deal" and a "game changer" in connecting millions of homes. But there's also the harsh reality that many families who don't have broadband service also don't own a computer. To tackle that problem, Redemtech, a technology refurbishment company, will offer refurbished laptops and desktop PCs built around Intel's Core 2 architecture for $150 plus tax. In addition, Morgan Stanley has signed up to develop a microfinancing plan to help families afford the upfront cost of a PC, the FCC says.
You can read more about the FCC's plan here (PDF) .