Comcast expands eligibility for low-cost Internet service for low-income families
Mar 05, 2013 (The Oregonian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Comcast said today that families with kids in parochial schools and families that homeschool their children are nowwill soon be eligible for a program that offers discounted Internet service to low-income households. (Clarification: Comcast says the broader availability begins April 1.)
Previously, the discounts were available only to families with students in public schools.
The Internet Essentials program started in 2011, part of a negotiated settlement with federal regulators to win approval for Comcast's purchase of NBC-Universal.
Nearly 3,400 families in Oregon and Southwest Washington use the program, according to Comcast, up from around 2,000 at the beginning of the current school year. Nationwide, enrollment has risen from 100,000 to 150,000 in the same period.
Comcast offers basic Web access for $9.95 a month, with downloads of 3 megabits per second. That's slower than most cable or DSL Internet connections, but plenty fast for e-mail, basic Web surfing and even streaming video.
Without the discount, the service costs $39.95 a month.
To receive the discount, families must qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. A family of four qualifies with annual income below $42,643.
Comcast also offers a $150 basic "netbook" computer, a class of no-frills laptop, to program participants.
Parents seeking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376.
-- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; phone: 503-294-7699
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