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Business

Phone company aims to reduce broadband costs

PEKIN – CenturyLink Inc., is offering its Internet Basics program in Illinois to improve broadband adoption and use by qualifying, low-income consumers.

The goal of the program is to reduce broadband cost barriers for economically disadvantaged consumers, including older Americans whose Internet adoption rates continue to lag behind that of other demographic groups.

To help get more households online, CenturyLink provides discounted high-speed Internet service starting at $9.95 per month, plus applicable taxes and fees, to eligible consumers in Illinois. The service provides access to up to 1.5 Mbps download capability.

Higher bandwidth services, where available, are offered at a comparable discount.

Participation in the program is determined by the criteria for the Lifeline Affordable Telephone Service.

Although the criteria are the same, residents are not required to have Lifeline service in order to obtain the service; however, residents must qualify for one of 11 federal programs:

■ Medicaid.

■ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP).

■ Supplemental Security Income.

■ Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8).

■ Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

■ Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

■ National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program.

■ Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance.

■ Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

■ Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.

■ Head Start (if income eligibility criteria are met).

The company also is offering program participants an Internet-ready netbook computer. The new equipment includes access to CenturyLink@Ease, a comprehensive suite of backup, security and support services.

In addition, it is arranging basic computer education and technology training classes to Internet Basics customers.

The free classes are being offered through community groups and senior centers, as well as at schools, libraries, and other state and local institutions in more than 100 markets throughout the country.

According to a 2012 study on broadband adoption by senior citizens, broadband use will become increasingly important as the senior population continues to grow in coming decades.

Visit www.centurylink.com/internetbasics for more information about the program and the netbook computer.

CenturyLink has an office in Dixon.

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