The new program, “Internet Essentials,” will provide discounted Internet service and computers to low-income families. Ironically, a similar program, dubbed “TV Essentials” was offered up by Time Warner Cable last November, which provided a well-rounded selection of TV channels, numbering in the neighborhood of 50, for a budget-friendly subscription rate.
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 the company’s blog.
Internet service provided through Internet Essentials features download speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 384 Kbps. The plan costs $9.95 per month and is available for families that:
* Are located where Comcast offers Internet service (currently in 39 states)
* Have at least one child receiving free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program
* Have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days
* Do not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment
Upon enrollment, new customers have the opportunity to buy a “netbook-style laptop computer” for $149.99. It supports wired and Wi-Fi Internet connectivity and includes the Windows 7 Starter operating system and Internet browser software. Comcast has launched websites in English and Spanish to promote the offering.
The program will continue to accept new customers for “three full school years,” according to the product’s FAQ page.
RBR-TVBR observation: This is likely a result of the Comcast-NBCU merger, in where the communications giant agreed to increase broadband deployment in low income households as one of a number of conditions of the deal. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to capitalize on budget-crunched customers in this new economy that would otherwise be heading to their local Starbucks for free internet once or twice a day.