CenturyLink to provide low-cost high-speed Internetby Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Another company says it will provide low-cost high-speed Internet connections to Minnesotans who otherwise could not afford them.
This offer comes from CenturyLink, which merged earlier this year with Qwest. To win federal approval of the merger, CenturyLink promised to provide inexpensive Internet connections to qualifying low-income customers.
"Everyone is interested in helping bridge the digital divide, getting people online," Joanna Hjelmeland, a CenturyLink spokeswoman. "And we found low-income people need service they can afford. And they also need access to a computer,"
Qualifying low-income Minnesotans can get inexpensive high-speed Internet connections from CenturyLink. The company will provide Internet connections for about $10 a month. CenturyLink will also provide an Internet-ready netbook computer for $150.
Comcast made a similar agreement to win regulatory approval of its merger with NBC.
The Federal Communications Commission estimates about 90 percent of households with annual incomes above $75,000 have high-speed Internet connections. But only 40 percent of households with annual incomes of $20,000 or less have fast Internet service.
CenturyLink provides service on some 1.3 million phone lines in Minnesota.