Skip to main content

Comcast rolls out ultra-cheap internet to millions of low-income Americans

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, is taking steps to close the so-called “digital divide,” announcing Tuesday that it will significantly expand its low-cost internet access program,  Internet Essentials, to make just about any low-income customer eligible for the service.

The need for cheap broadband access is real, as class plays a big role in whether or not a household is broadband connected. Households living in cities with the highest poverty rates are as much as ten times more likely not to have broadband access than homes in the wealthier cities, according to U.S. Census data.

Cities near Silicon Valley and around Washington, D.C., for example, have broadband connectivity rates above 90 percent — some of the highest in the country. But in the nation’s poorest cities, like Trenton, N.J. or Flint, Michigan, as little as 40 percent of households have broadband access, leaving entire communities behind.

Comcast’s newly-expanded program may help to change that.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Internet Essentials offers 15Mbps download speeds for $9.95 per month — a full $40 lower than what that service usually costs. These customers also pay no installation fees, and no contracts or credit checks are required for service. Comcast’s only requirements are that applicants must not have any outstanding debt less than a year old owed to Comcast, and not have had service with the provider within the past six months.

To guide our audience through an increasingly complex digital world by humanizing technology and filtering out the noise.

Before August 6, however, there were only five ways to qualify. Parents of children in the National School Lunch Program were eligible, as were community college students in Colorado or Illinois. Low-income veterans, seniors, and HUD housing recipients could also apply.

Starting Tuesday, customers can also prove eligibility by providing proof of benefits from nearly a dozen other federal programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and others. This should cover just about every low-income household where Comcast offers service, the company says.

Comcast

“This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal we set eight years ago, which was to meaningfully and significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans,” Comcast NBCUniversal chief diversity officer David Cohen said in a statement.

Internet Essentials has grown steadily since its introduction, from just 340,000 in 2012 to approximately eight million individuals across two million households this year. With this expansion, Comcast says some three million additional low-income households in its service area are now eligible.

Comcast also will continue to offer customers the choice of purchasing a refurbished Windows 10 laptop or desktop system with Microsoft Office and Norton Security Suite installed for just $150. The company said it’s either sold or donated 100,000 of these computers to needy customers.

The company’s moves follow recent political pressure to ensure broadband access is available to all Americans. Former President Barack Obama said in 2015 that “the Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity.” The Trump Administration has made moves to increase broadband access as well, lessening the paperwork requirements to build out broadband networks in rural areas.

5G may also be a possible solution to the issue, but with the technology being so new, it’s years away from being accessible to a majority of Americans. A fix is needed now, proponents say.

“The Internet is arguably the most important technological innovation in history, and it is unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource,” Cohen said.

Ed Oswald
For fifteen years, Ed has written about the latest and greatest in gadgets and technology trends. At Digital Trends, he's…
This Alienware 25-inch 500Hz gaming monitor is $300 off today
Overwatch 2 running on the Alienware 500Hz gaming monitor.

If you're the type of person who plays competitive games and wants to get into the esports scene, then having a high-refresh-rate monitor can make all the difference in the world. While there are a ton of options out there, probably one of the fastest, if not the fastest, is Alienware's whopping 500Hz gaming monitor, which is such a high amount that it's hard to wrap our heads around. Of course, that high refresh comes at a significant cost, but luckily, this Memorial Day deal will let you snag it for just $400 rather than the usual eye-watering $700.

Why you should buy the Alienware 500Hz Gaming Monitor
The Alienware 500Hz Gaming Monitor is a very peculiar monitor because it occupies an interesting niche that's hard to justify for a lot of other folks. It's a monitor that is made to cater to a very specific set of competitive games, which are primarily games like Valorant, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, and even League of Legends. And while it's true that these games are the ones that are going to get the most benefit, other games also have a much smoother experience, even if it's a sort of thing that will give you diminishing returns. Also, it's worth noting that, even though it runs at 1080p, you're still going to need something like an RTX 4090 to really reach that 500hz refresh rate, so you are going to add considerably to the cost.

Read more
Get this LaserJet printer for $119 in HP’s Memorial Day sale
HP LaserJet Pro MFP 3101fdw printer looks nice on a white stand beside plants.

With the big shift to working from home, printers have become an important part of everyday life, even if you don't really use one regularly, and while some of the best printers from the best printer brands can be very expensive, some budget-friendly versions are not. So, if you don't do a ton of printing on a day-to-day basis, a budget printer like the HP LaserJet M209dw is the way to go, and there's even a solid Memorial Day discount on it directly from HP. While it usually goes for $149, you can grab it now for just $119, which is a nice $30 knocked off the price.

Why you should buy the HP LaserJet M209dw Printer
The HP LaserJet M209dw is a monochrome printing laser that's great for things like text documents or even character sheets for those who want to play tabletop roleplaying games. It can print at a very impressive 30 ppm, so your prints will be done relatively quickly, while the monthly recommended print volume of between 200 and 2,000 pages should be more than enough for most needs. The 600 x 600 dpi resolution isn't too bad, although it is on the lower end, which is to be expected at this price point.

Read more
Dell is having a secret sale on refurbished laptops — from $99
The Dell XPS 13

The Dell Memorial Day deals this year not only cover brand new devices such as laptops and gaming PCs -- there are also huge discounts on hundreds of models of refurbished laptops, with prices that go as low as $99. To help you make a quick decision on what to purchase, we've rounded up our favorite refurbished laptop deals for the holiday below. Feel free to browse through everything that's on sale, but you still need to hurry as there's a chance that these offers expire as soon as the holiday ends.

What to buy in Dell's Memorial Day sale on refurbished laptops
The cheapest refurbished laptop from Dell's Memorial Day sale is the 11-inch Dell Chromebook 3100, which is from its original price of $285 for savings of $186. It's only got the Intel Celeron N4020 processor, Intel UHD Graphics, and 4GB of RAM, but as an internet-focused Chromebook, it will perform faster that you expect. Another affordable option is the 15-inch Dell Inspiron 3520, which can go for savings of $135 on its original price of $450. The laptop comes with the 12th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, Intel UHD Graphics, and 8GB of RAM. Both of these refurbished laptops, however, come with scratches and dents, but they still work properly.

Read more