A new program from cable, telephone, and Internet provider Comcast will provide discounted web access, a low-cost computer, and free Internet training for qualifying low-income families in the US. The service is called Internet Essentials and is expected to help bridge the divide that poor families face regarding technology.
The program comes as a result of Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal earlier this year. As part of that deal, the FCC required that Comcast make broadband subscriptions available to 400,000 poor households for less than $10 per month.
Families interested in the $9.95 broadband service and $149.99 computer must meet a few criteria.
First, you must be living in one of the 39 states that Comcast currently serves. Furthermore, said family must have at least one child enrolled in a free lunch program through the National School Lunch Program. You must not have subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days and finally you can’t have any overdue Comcast bills or unreturned equipment.
The broadband service is rated at up to 1.5Mbps down and 384Kbps up.
Hardware specifications on the sub-$150 computer are bleak but Comcast claims it will be a netbook-style laptop that supports wired and wireless Internet connectivity. Each system includes a copy of Windows 7 Starter edition and can be loaded with Norton Security Suite and parental controls for free.
Internet Essentials will be available starting in the 2011-2012 school year and will run for three full school years. Those who sign up will not see a price increase during this period, nor will they have to pay activation or installation charges or equipment rentals. Potential customers can sign up today by calling 1-855-8-INTERNET.