Fewer senior citizens have Internet access than any other age range. This fact is a troublesome, considering the various ways seniors can benefit from going online. With today's technology, the Internet can help seniors keep track of their medical records, rapidly connect with healthcare professionals, and stay socially active by easily reaching out to their friends and loved ones from the comfort of their own home.
So why do so few seniors have Internet access? The problem stems from their living on a fixed income. Most senior citizens feel like they can't fit Internet service into their budget, but with the below three options, they absolutely can.
Free Internet Service Providers
Believe it or not, there are a lot of Internet Service Providers that offer free internet service, with a few stipulations attached, of course. What kind of stipulations? You may be subject to a limited amount of data, or a limited amount of Internet use hours per month.
Some providers offer free service, but require you to pay upfront for the modem you'll need to access the service.
Generally, free service is a bit slower than paid service, but if your only goal is to be able to occasionally browse the web or send emails, free service should work just fine.
Another option is to have your Internet service bundled with your cable service, telephone service, or both. If you're not interested in cable or telephone service, this probably isn't the option for you. But for those who already subscribe to cable or telephone service, you'll save a few dollars by signing on for a package deal. One survey conducted by Consumer Reports showed that 85 percent of those who packaged all three services together would consider doing so again.
Bundle packages offer a variety of Internet speeds to choose from, and the discount you'll receive varies by provider. Some larger companies even offer a fourth aspect to their bundle deals -- cell phone service.
Lifeline Broadband Program
In January of 2013, the Federal Communication Commission began a $13.8 million pilot program specifically geared toward providing low-income individuals with high-speed Internet access. This Lifeline Broadband Program is still in its introductory phases, but it's currently available in 21 states.
The FCC is testing a variety of different plans to determine what works best. Each plan offers different subsidy amounts, end-user charges, equipment types, and Internet speeds. In Washington, for example, participants are offered free or discounted equipment and are charged between $10 and $20 a month for mobile Internet access.
As a bonus, some plans under this pilot program even offer free Internet literacy training to those who have little or no experience.
While this program is not open enrollment, you may be able to jump on board if somebody in your area has opted out. Contact your local Internet service provider to find out if there are any open spaces in the program, and if your income meets the qualification guidelines.
If there are no spots available in your area, check back again soon. The FCC is expected to make an announcement of their findings in 2015, at which time they'll roll out a more standardized program that all low-income individuals can take advantage of.
If you're a senior citizen living on a fixed income, you've got a lot to gain from Internet service. The Internet allows an easy, instant way to reach out to professionals, friends, and family members. While you may think it's out of your price range, the above three options make getting on the World Wide Web less expensive than ever before.
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