Comcast is expanding its services to help more low-income people get access to the internet without having to pay Comcast’s normal prices.
The expansion, part of the company’s Internet Essentials program, will see another 2 million households able to get 10Mbps internet connectivity for $10 per month, thanks to the fact that it now covers HUD-assisted (Department of Housing and Urban Development) households. In fact, according to Comcast, the program will now cover as much as 40 percent of all HUD-assisted households worldwide. Not only that, but the program will also now be available to adults without kids eligible for the National School Lunch Program.
Internet Essentials was created in 2011 to secure approval to acquire NBCUniversal. Despite being somewhat forced to create the program, the company decided to continue it indefinitely as of 2014, which is when the requirement expired. According to Comcast, more than 600,000 low-income families, or a total of 2.4 million people, have connected to the internet using the program.
The program hasn’t come without criticism. Some claim that it is too difficult to sign up for, partly because of the fact that it’s normally only available to households with kids in school. That’s one of the main points that Comcast addressed with the expansion.
There are still some requirements that need to be met — customers who have unpaid bills cannot join the program if those debts are less than a year old, and customers can’t sign up if they have subscribed to another Comcast plan within the past 90 days. That, of course, can be a problem for people who are only paying for more expensive plans because they haven’t been eligible for the low-cost plan.
Of course, Comcast isn’t the only one helping connect low-income households. Google has launched a similar program that is free and offers speeds as much as 100 times what Comcast offers. Comcast’s program is available to far more people simply because Comcast has a wider reach than Google Fiber when it comes to internet connectivity.