Thursday, November 29, 2012

Internet Essentials: Another twist on low-cost broadband service for low-income Americans

Comcast, the cable TV giant, is also getting into the low-cost internet business with a program called Internet Essentials. This is very good news. If you live in areas of the country served by Comcast and you qualify, you can now get Internet Essentials for just $9.95 per month instead of the $40–60 the company had charged in the past for its lowest cost basic plan.

Consider this important statistic: Only 45% of families earning under $30,000 currently have broadband service in their homes. This puts those parents and their children at a huge disadvantage when it comes to finding and applying for jobs, communicating with doctors, completing homework and other everyday tasks that more affluent families take for granted.

Internet Essentials is very similar to the Connect To Compete program. They both cost just $9.95 a month and deliver a blazing fast 1.5 – 3.0 Mbps download speed. Qualifying families will even be able to purchase a computer for only $149.99. There are no activation fees and no additional equipment fees.

You also get the world famous Norton Security Suite which gives you professional online security. It’s a $160 value, but you get it absolutely free.

And finally, Internet Essentials gives you free parental control features to help protect your kids whether they’re doing their schoolwork or just playing on the internet.

How to qualify for Internet Essentials

To qualify for Internet Essentials and get a low-cost computer and high-speed internet access for just $9.95 per month, a family must have at least one child who receives free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). If your child qualifies for the free lunch program but doesn’t yet participate, you’ll need to sign up.

In addition, you cannot have been a Comcast internet subscriber in the last 90 days and you cannot have any overdue Comcast bills or unreturned equipment.

Of course, you have to be in an area served by Comcast, but you’ve got a good chance, since Internet Essentials will be available in more than 4,000 school districts in 39 states plus the District of Columbia.

The states we show as having Comcast Cable available are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Missouri, Mississippi, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia (DC). If you don’t see your state on the list, you should still check with Comcast in case they’ve added service in a state since we wrote this.

Contact Information

Comcast Cable:
Phone: 855-846-8376

Internet Essentials:
Phone: 855-846-8376

Comcast profile:
Profile Page: Comcast Cable

Once enrolled, a customer will be able to continue receiving Internet Essentials service for at the same low price as long as at least one child in their household continues to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program.

While Comcast hasn’t joined other cable companies in Connect To Compete program that brings low cost internet service to America’s neediest citizens, the details of the two programs are virtually identical.

Internet Essentials originated when Comcast acquired NBC. In order to win FCC approval, Comcast agreed to “increase broadband deployment in low income households” for three years.

Let’s hope the program ends up running a lot longer than that.

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