Comcast to Begin Offering Broadband Internet to Low-Income Families

Cable and Internet provider Comcast is launching a new program that will provide discounted Internet service and computers to low-income families. The program, called Internet Essentials®, will provide “low cost access to the Internet and affordable computers as well as digital literacy training to families with children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program,” according to Comcast’s blog.

Internet service provided through the program will feature download speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 384 Kbps. The plan will cost $9.95 per month, plus tax. Families who want to get the plan must live in an area where Comcast is already available, have at least one child receiving free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program, must have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service in the last 90 days, and do not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.

I personally think it’s sort of strange that the program has to be tied to school lunches – what about people who are low-income but don’t have children?

When families enroll, they will also have the opportunity to purchase a “netbook-style laptop computer” for $149.99 that supports both wired and Wi-Fi Internet connectivity and includes Windows 7.

Comcast will enroll new families for “three full school years,” and it’s not yet clear if Comcast will continue the program after the terms of the condition expire. Still, it’s a step forward in closing the gap between low-income families and “middle class” families.

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