CARBONDALE — More Southern Illinois families could be online soon with the help of a program announced Wednesday by cable/internet provider Mediacom and national nonprofit EveryoneOn.

In a news release provided by Carbondale Public Relations Officer Amy Fox, Mediacom says it will provide discounted high-speed internet services to students and families that qualify for the National School Lunch Program.

The service will be provisioned at 10 Mbps down by 1 Mbps up and will cost $9.95 per month, which includes the lease of a Wi-Fi-enabled modem.

The program is called Connect2Compete. Those interested in learning more or signing up can visit or call 855-904-2225.

“By launching the Connect2Compete program in Southern Illinois, we hope to make internet access available to more families by lowering the cost of entry for those most at-risk of being left behind in today’s digital world,” Todd Curtis, group vice president for Mediacom’s Lincoln Region, said according to the news release.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of American households with incomes below $30,000 a year lack access to broadband services at home. By comparison, 94 percent of American households earning $100,000 or more a year have home broadband service. This disparity in online access has created what is commonly referred to as the “homework gap” between school age children with broadband access and those without, the release says. 

“Addressing digital inclusion is a priority," Steven Mitchell, economic development director for the city of Carbondale, said in the release. “The Connect2Compete initiative launched by Mediacom in partnership with EveryoneOn attacks this issue head-on by offering low-income families with school age children an affordable internet service option.” 

EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit working to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost internet service and computers, and free digital literacy courses accessible to all unconnected U.S. residents.