Comcast is launching Internet Essentials, a new initiative offering discounted Internet access and home computers to families that meet low income requirements. The program was mandated as a requirement of Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal, earlier this year.
In that way, it's very similar to AT&T's Naked DSL program, which AT&T was required to offer as a condition of its merger with BellSouth.
Internet Essentials will be available wherever Comcast offers broadband, which means 39 states. To promote the program, Comcast has launched websites in both English and Spanish.
To qualify for Internet Essentials, a family must meet the following requirements:
- Has at least one child eligible to receive a free school lunch under the NSLP (as an example, according to the Department of Agriculture, a household of three would have to make less than $25,000 a year in income);
- Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days;
- Has children in grades K-12
- Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.
As part of the program, families will receive literacy training and Internet service for $9.95 a month (plus tax). Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said, "When we look around the country, we see the disparities that exist. Quite frankly, people in lower-income communities, mostly people of color, have such limited access to broadband than people in wealthier communities."
Families will also receive a voucher which will allow them to purchase a new computer for $149.99 (plus tax).
As an example, according to the Department of Agriculture, a household of three would have to make less than $25,000 a year in income to qualify. Qualifying students will receive an application at the start of the upcoming school year.