On Tuesday, Comcast announced the nationwide launch of its Internet Essentials program. The cable company’s new program provides low-income families with school-going children access to $10 broadband and even a cheap $150 computer.
“Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their schools’ educational resources,” said Comcast Corporation Executive David L. Cohen in a statement. He added that the program will enable parents to apply to jobs, learn about healthcare as well as government services in their area.
Though the service has been floating around since the beginning of the year, Comcast officially launched the nationwide program at Ballou High School in the District of Columbia. So far,1,000 School districts (adding up to 20,000 schools) have signed up to take part and spread the word about Internet Essentials.
To be eligible you must:
- Have a kid who is eligible to receive a free school lunch.
- Be located where Comcast provides service.
- Not have subscribed to Comcast in the past 90 days and generally be on good terms with the company.
The program offers low-income families Internet service at $9.95 monthly, with download speeds of 1.5Mbps and 384 Kbps upload—no activation fees or price jumps. Families also receive a voucher for a $150 computer (a Windows 7 netbook). For those that need a little help using the internet, customers will have access to free digital literacy training. Families will be signed up to the program by Comcast for at least three years.
Ars Technica points out that the cheap Internet offer is part of the conditions Comcast had to meet in order to buy NBC. The company pledged to hook up 2.5 million eligible families with high speed Internet. Whatever the reason, it’s a step towards upping America’s current global rank for broadband access.