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Comcast broadens reach, increases speed for Internet Essentials

Tue, 04/17/2012 - 2:21pm
Mike Robuck

Comcast has made several enhancements to its Internet Essentials program, which was designed to increase broadband adoption by low-income families.

Comcast launched Internet Essentials last year, but it was criticized in some corners that it was too difficult for some needy families to qualify for. In a blog posting on Comcast’s website today, Susan Jin Davis, vice president of communications and data services, wrote about three enhancements to the service.

“These enhancements are really important improvements to our already successful program for a couple of reasons,” Jin Davis wrote. “For one, we continually look for ways to make the program better and make changes as soon as we can. In addition, we want to reach even more customers, as well as make existing customers happier with the service so they remain connected.

“For example, when we first started out, Internet Essentials was offered to families with children eligible to receive ‘free’ school lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Today, we have officially extended the program to include families with children eligible to receive ‘reduced’ price lunches, too. This change adds about 300,000 households in our service area who can now apply for the program – bringing our estimated total to about 2.3 million eligible families. So the universe of the program just got bigger, which is a good thing.”

The service, which costs $10 a month, made its debut with a downstream speed of 1.5 Mbps, but it has now been increased to speeds of up to 3 Mbps on the downstream and 768 kbps on the upstream.

Lastly, Comcast has streamlined the application process by providing an instant approval process for all students attending schools with the highest percentage of NSLP participation, including Provision 2 schools.

Comcast provided a detailed report on Internet Essentials in January, which included the enhancements that are now in effect.

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