Recently, Charter Communications announced that they would begin offering a low-cost broadband service within six months of the approval of their merger with Time Warner Cable and acquisition of Bright House Networks.

As FierceCable reports, the service will deliver 30/4 Mbps speeds for $14.99 per month and will be available to all areas around the country where Charter provides broadband service.

Who can sign up?

  • Families with students who participate in the National School Lunch Program.
  • Seniors who are 65 and older who receive Supplemental Security Income program benefits.

But there are restrictions:

  • Enrollees cannot have had a Charter/TWC/BHN broadband subscription within 60 days of signing up.
  • Eligible participants will not need to undergo a credit check but they must clear bad debt with Charter, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

The positives to this plan are that the speeds offered by Charter are a huge upgrade over past low-income broadband programs, ie Comcast’s. Additionally, the program would be nationwide and not staged in select cities, like other low-income broadband programs.

But, the fact that customers can’t have service with 60 days is still mystifying to me. If a customer has had service within the last month but still applies, why not let them sign up for the cheaper package? We are talking about people who live close to paycheck to paycheck.

Additionally, the line about “bad debt” makes me slightly nervous as I can see Charter using that line to knock off people from the program with debt that isn’t “bad”. It happens, I can attest to that from work experience. Considering the economy, having all sorts of debt is not that unheard of, especially with low-income customers. FYI, bad debt generally means a debt that is not collectible and therefore worthless to the creditor.

Overall, it still is an improvement over other programs.