Home Internet LA County To Offer Internet Plans For Low-Income Households In East And South LA

LA County To Offer $25 Internet Plans For Low-Income Households In East And South LA

Angelenos pay an average of $84 per month to get internet from commercial providers, which is steep for many households and simply unaffordable for others.

There’s also very little competition — often you’re forced to use the one or two companies that offer service in your area, and pay their prices.

Which is why L.A. County is launching its own high-speed broadband service aimed at low-income residents in South L.A., East L.A. and Boyle Heights, with plans as low as $25 per month.

The service could be available later this year, and will be offered through public-private partnerships called Community Broadband Networks.

A small Utah-based private company called WeLink won a contract to lead the first two projects in South and East L.A.

The new service will offer a fast, fixed wireless connection with speeds up to 2 gigabits per second. Market rate plans will start as low as $65 for speeds of up to 500 Mbps (megabits per second), ranging up to $85 for 2 gigs.

Low-income residents could pay as low as $25 a month for 500 Mbps and up to $45 for 2 gigs.

Eligibility requirements include a household income below 200% of the federal poverty line or receiving government benefits like SNAP, Medicaid or free/reduced lunch.

All plans come with unlimited data and no contract. The most affordable tier would still allow a family to stream high-quality video on multiple devices, according to the county.

Will the service be available in your area?

We’ve broken down the neighborhoods where it will be offered below.

How To Get Connected

    • Sign ups haven’t started yet, but the county will be doing outreach over the next few months.
    • To see if you’re in the target areas, go to L.A. County’s Delete the Divide website and plug in your address.
    • Construction is expected to begin this summer and a limited service could be available by the fall.

East L.A./Boyle Heights

Click here to check availability for your street address in East L.A./Boyle Heights.

The network in Supervisorial District 1 will built alongside the 110 Freeway, east of Dodgers Stadium and south to the 60 Freeway. That covers about 84,000 households over a 25-square mile radius.

The service will be available to people who live in East L.A., Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights and El Sereno.

The county estimates more than 20,000 of the households in this area don’t have internet service. The annual median income is $46,659.

South L.A.

Click here to check availability for your street address in South L.A.

The South L.A. project in Supervisorial District 2 is nearly double in size, covering about 182,000 households within 44 square miles.

It will reach communities south of the 10 Freeway, including: Adams-Normandie, University Park, Historic South Central, Exposition Park, Vermont Square, Florence, Florence-Firestone, Manchester Square, Vermont Knolls, Gramercy Park, Westmont, Vermont Vista, Broadway Manchester, Green Meadows, Watts, Athens, Willowbrook, West Rancho Dominguez and Walnut Park.

An estimated 93,000 of these households don’t have broadband. The annual median household income is $41,131.

The networks will be built using landlines, radio links and equipment mounted to public buildings, streetlights and other real estate owned by the county and its partners to help drive down the cost.

Further expansion

The county is planning to expand the project to more communities — at least one in each supervisorial district, targeting areas where more than 20% of households lack broadband.

“Being able to offer an option and a solution for those folks who have not traditionally has access — it’s very humbling and exciting,” said Michael Owh, director of the county’s Internal Services Department, which is leading the effort. “This is just the first of many, many milestones.”

What Residents In South, East L.A. Will Pay For Service:

  • Low-cost plans available for qualifying households:
    ◌ $25/month for up to 500 Mbps (500/500)
    ◌ $35/month for up to 1000 Mbps (1 Gig)
    ◌ $45/month for up to 2000 Mbps symmetrical (2 Gig)

    Residential market rate plans:
    ◌ $65/month for up to 500 Mbps (500/500)
    ◌ $75/month for up to 1000 Mbps (1 Gig)
    ◌ $85/month for up to 2000 Mbps (2 Gig)

    Small Business plan:
    ◌ $100/month for up to 2000/2000 megabits per second (2 Gig)

Digital divide

The pandemic highlighted the gap between the digital haves and the have-nots when much of life moved online, making it difficult for people without internet to access social services and other resources.

In 2021, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors set aside millions in federal relief money to help close the area’s digital divide. At the time, more than 400,000 residents lacked broadband service — an issue that disproportionately impacts Black and Latino communities.

Now that contracts are finalized, construction could begin as early as the summer and be completed by the end of 2025. But officials say residents could start getting connected this fall.

“We really want to get to the point where folks are saying, ‘I was able to get a work-from-home job or my kids were able to do homework in our living room, rather than having to go to a library or a fast-food restaurant or coffee shop to be able to do that,” said program manager Eric Sasaki.

“It’s a way to show if we’re going to solve the digital divide, we’ve got to work together,” said Selwyn Hollins, the recently retired Internal Services director who helped start the project. He says entering into public-private partnerships allows them to “pool our resources to create the greatest benefit.”

The fine print

Companies that partner with the county are required to offer multilingual customer service and low-cost plans. They cannot impose data caps and have to include free professional installation and equipment, as well as parental controls.

WeLink will not require a credit check or cash deposits in order to connect as many people as possible. But prices are only guaranteed until September 2027. Sasaki said the county is “hoping to have that extended.”

Any upcoming Community Broadband Networks in other districts could offer different prices, depending on who the county partners with in those areas. The Internal Services Department recently applied for a $35.1 million grant from the state’s Broadband for All plan to expand the service. Read more about that here.

How is your community experiencing the digital divide?

It can be difficult to navigate life in Los Angeles without a smartphone or access to a strong Wi-Fi connection. But there are thousands in LA who don’t have that basic technology.



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