Comcast $9.95 Internet Service for Lower-Income Families Kicks Off
D.C. students who receive free lunch can receive digital training and a free computer
On Tuesday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson joined David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast Corporation, to launch the program called “Internet Essentials.” According to Cohen, the need to easily provide Internet access for lower-income families was obvious among Comcast employees.
“Our technicians see it, our call center representatives see it, our engineers see it,” he told Loop 21. “All because of what is known as the digital divide; what I would describe as the tremendously unequal adoption of broadband among higher-income families and lower-income families.”
The FCC chairman supported the program and said fixing digital disparities will help provide equal access among all kids.
“The program will prepare the next generation, create new opportunities for more jobs and will make a positive difference in the lives of many Americans,” Genachowski said. “I challenge other service producers to take concrete steps to help close the broadband adoption gap.”
Although Broadbandmap.gov ranks D.C. as the city with the highest broadband speed in the country, Cohen said kids from poor households still have trouble with easy access to a computer and the Internet.
“Comcast is the largest residential high-speed data provider in the country,” he said. “As a result of that, we as a company get to see everyday the transformative potential of the Internet, the difference that it could make in people’s lives.”
Program participants will receive Internet service for $9.95/month dodging price increases, equipment rental fees and activation fees. A computer voucher for $149.99 will be provided and the household will have access to free digital literacy in person, print and online.
Although Cohen said his company would not reveal the cost of the initiative, he called their investment “very significant” with “no cost to the public.”
The company hardly faced any challenges when coordinating the program, according to Cohen. “There were really almost none,” he said.
“Everyone who has heard about his program sort of wait for the button,” he said. “I know I personally pitched this to a number of governors, mayors and superintendents and when you’re telling the story you sit their and look at their faces where does the ‘but’ come where is the hook?”
To be eligible, at least one child must receive free lunch under the NSLP, and be the household should be located in an area where Comcast offers Internet service. The customer should be free of overdue Comcast bills. Participants will remain in the program for at least three years.
For more information requirements, go to www.internetessentials.com for English or www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Parents who would like to enroll in the program should call 1-855-846-8376 or for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.