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Comcast’s Internet Essentials offers low-cost Internet to struggling families

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Comcast is taking steps to get more people using the Internet with a new program designed to offer in-home web access at a low cost for families on a tight budget. The company’s Internet Essentials package offers a $10/month package that comes with a number of other bonuses for those homes that qualify, a press release reveals.

Internet Essentials is designed to bring affordable Internet into low-income living situations. Qualifying families must have at least one child eligible to receive a free school lunch under the National School Lunch Program; the press release offers an example from the Department of Agriculture, that the yearly income on a household of three would have to fall under $25,000. Those who qualify will also have to be living in a Comcast-supported area, though those with an overdue bill/unreturned equipment and those who have been subscribers in the past 90 days are not eligible.

Those who do qualify will be fairly well hooked up for getting onto the web. The basic package of $9.95 per month (plus taxes and fees) comes with a promise of no price increases, activation fees or equipment rentals. Subscribers will also receive a voucher for purchase a “low-cost computer” for $149.99 (plus tax), access to digital literacy training and Norton’s Security Suite.

The release points to three factors that are seen as barriers to more widespread broadband adoption, which Internet Essentials is designed to address: a lack of understanding of the Internet, the cost of a computer and the cost of monthly Internet service. This program’s benefits hit on every one of those points. It isn’t a blazing fast connection — 1.5 Mbps download and 384 Kbps upload, according to the FAQ — but it’s cheap and it’ll get you online, which is the most important step here.