A good move as the review and approval process for its $45.2 billion buy of Time Warner Cable gets underway: Comcast announced its discounted Internet service for low-income families will be available indefinitely. The FCC and DOJ are expected to launch their reviews of the deal at the end of the month, after Comcast submits required documents. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing on the merger on 3/26 as well.
“Internet Essentials” is Comcast’s broadband Internet program for some low-income families with children. It costs $9.95 a month and currently serves 300,000 families since it launched in 2011. “Some 2.6 million U.S. families are eligible, according to Comcast. It was originally expected to run through the end of the 2013-2014 school year,” notes a Reuters story. “As part of Comcast’s proposed merger, the offer will be available in 19 of 20 largest U.S. cities as Comcast expands into Time Warner Cable’s markets, Comcast executives said, calling Internet Essentials the largest broadband adoption program by both geography and subscribers.”
“I don’t think there’s a broadband adoption program in the country, private or government, that has the reach or has had the impact of Internet Essentials,” said Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen.
The program has become one way Comcast is fulfilling a promise of broader deployment and adoption of broadband it made to federal regulators to gain approval for its NBC Universal merger in 2011.
“I think the FCC’s going to find that to be a very appealing public-interest benefit,” Cohen told reporters after the companies announced merger plans.
RBR-TVBR observation: It’s going to help during the review process, for sure, as they will certainly offer the service to the added TWC subscribers. “Internet Essentials” serves not only families with children who qualify for free or reduced school lunches, but also homeschoolers and those studying at parochial, private and cyber schools, said Reuters.