Walton Wide Web: Affordable internet access for low-income residents

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Internet access is now cheaper and more readily available for some Walton County families.

Tuesday, county officials announced a partnership with three internet providers that now offer access for lower income families who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it.

"We've made some big steps forward with our local providers, Mediacom, Cox, and Brighthouse [Charter Spectrum], to offer for our free and reduced lunch [families] and senior citizens over 65, a high-speed internet at a low-cost solution," said Walton County Administration Projects and Programs Manager, Rick Wilson.

For 10 to 15 dollars a month, some residents will have the option of 10 to 30 megabits of speed to access the World Wide Web.

"In a rural area like Walton County, high-speed internet is anything but cheap. It's very expensive. So this is really a step for these providers because they aren't getting the same return on their investment they would," explained Wilson, "but they are getting more clientele. They are getting more customers and we are improving our situation here in Walton County."

Wilson said by offering low price services to these citizens, they hope to open up better access to secondary education, telemedicine, and telehealth to the people of Walton County.

"No modem cost, no Wi-Fi costs, so for our children who sometimes struggle to have these speeds to learn and improve their education this is a huge step forward, as well as for our senior citizens," Wilson said.

Wilson said 25 megabits is the federal government standard for families.

"We've been working on this for about two and a half years to get to this point and our ultimate goal is to get high-speed internet to every home. So [we've been] working with our providers and letting them know what our situation here is and that we're serious about improving it," Wilson said.