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Monday August 8, 2011 4:41 pm

Comcast Internet Essentials brings broadband to low-income families for $10 a month


comcast Internet essentials

Comcast is tapping into its altruistic side a little bit and deploying a brand-new service tier, one that's designed to bring the Internet to families that would otherwise be unable to pony up $40 to $60 for the company's lowest tiered plan.

Dubbed "Internet Essentials," Comcast's new plan will cost a family only $9.95 per month for a connection that features 1.5 Mbps download and 384 Kbps upload speeds. There's a guarantee of no price increases after-the-fact, as well as no activation fees or equipment rental fees for families signed up for the program. Enrollees will even be able to purchase a netbook computer via the Internet Essentials program for $149.99 (plus tax), and Comcast is offering free online and in-person "Internet training."

To join the program, however, families have to meet four different criteria: They have to be located in an area where Comcast can actually deliver Internet service (obviously), one of their children has to be receiving free school lunches via the National School Lunch Program, families must not have had Comcast Internet service up to 90 days prior to requesting to join the program, and families must not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned Comcast equipment.


"When we look around the country, we see the disparities that exist," said Comcast executive vice president David Cohen. "Quite frankly, people in lower-income communities, mostly people of color, have such limited access to broadband than people in wealthier communities."

The program, which was actually born as a condition of Comcast's January 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal, is expected to begin at the start of the 2011-2012 school year. Comcast says that it will accept new families into the program for a total of three years, at which point those already enrolled will presumably remain grandfathered in so long as they continue to meet the criteria listed above.

"Access to the Internet has the potential to be a great equalizer and a life-changing technology. Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families," Cohen said. "Access to broadband in students' homes will help them connect with their teachers and their school's educational resources as well as enabling parents to do things like apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live."

This article, written by David Murphy, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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