On August 2011, television and Internet service provider Comcast unveiled a plan offering discounted Internet and computers for low-income families. Named “Internet Essentials”, the plan offers Internet service for $9.95 and a “netbook-style laptop” computer for $149.99.
To be eligible, families must have at least one child receiving free school lunches, must have been a Comcast customer for at least 90 days and cannot have any overdue bills with Comcast.
On February 2012, Comcast is expanding the eligibility for its “Internet Essentials” broadband adoption program to include families with children eligible to receive reduced priced school lunches. This will make nearly 300,000 additional households in its service area eligible and raise the total to 2.3 million eligible families.
The plan provides discounted Internet service, affordable computers and digital literacy training to help bridge the digital divide and ensure more Americans benefit from all the Internet has to offer. The “Internet Essentials” program addresses three primary barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified:
- a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful,
- the cost of a home computer, and
- the cost of the Internet service.
At the launch date, the plan provided download speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 384 Kbps, but starting March 2012 the service has increased to speeds of up to 3 Mbps on the downstream and 768 kbps on the upstream.
On June 2012, Comcast added an enhanced online Learning Center. It includes a social media section, a refreshed design that features a guided tour for easier navigation and new digital literacy education videos.
The new Learning Center and videos support Comcast’s digital literacy education and awareness efforts by providing consumers with basic resources and tools on how to explore and use the Internet. The videos feature some of NBC’s “Today” Show talent, including Al Roker, Sara Haines and Jenna Wolfe. Other TV talent showcased in the videos include: Telemundo’s Jose Diaz-Balart, MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, and NBC’s Kate Snow and Joelle Garguilo.
How to qualify
To qualify for $9.95 a month Internet service and a low-cost computer, your household must meet all these criteria:
- Be located where Comcast offers Internet service
- Have at least one child receiving free or reduced price school lunches through the National School Lunch Program
- Have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days
- Not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment
How to apply
Call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) to request an application.
Comcast will mail you an application. Complete and return it, along with lunch program documents from your child’s school. You will be notified by mail about the status of your application. Allow 7-10 days for a response.
How to get connected
Once you are approved, Comcast will mail you a welcome package with everything you need to set up your Internet service and receive our free Internet training. If you choose to purchase a low-cost computer, your welcome package will provide details.