Comcast's Internet Essentials program has been unveiled in Miami and Delaware.
The program addresses three barriers to broadband adoption: a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant/useful, the cost of a computer and the cost of Internet service. It's available to low-income households living in Comcast's service area with children who are eligible to receive a free lunch under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
Comcast executive vice president David Cohen said: "Access to the Internet has the potential to be a great equalizer and a life-changing technology. Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families."
Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado stated: "The Internet Essentials program is a perfect example of how a local school system, city government and the business community can all work together to create solutions that move our entire community forward."
And Delaware Governor Jack Markell added: "Access to the Internet is important for Delaware parents looking for jobs or researching the best options for their families. Young people who enter the work world already computer literate have a head start in this digital economy. I commend Comcast for this effort to bring broadband access into more homes and expand access to computer and digital literacy. Delaware is proud to participate."
Internet Essentials will cost $9.95 per month for Comcast's Economy Internet tier, which features a downstream speed of up to 1.5 Mbps. Comcast said there are no price increases, and no activation fees or equipment rental fees, for the service.
Internet Essentials participants also get a voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 (plus tax) and access to free digital literacy training in print, online or in person. Additional benefits include the Norton Security Suite ($160 value) for online security protection at no additional cost.
A household is eligible to participate in the Internet Essentials program if it meets all of the following criteria: is located where Comcast offers Internet service, has at least one child eligible to receive a free school lunch under the NSLP, has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days, and does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.
Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program for at least three years, through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any household that qualifies during this three-year period will remain eligible for Internet Essentials, provided a child eligible for a free lunch remains living in the household.