Comcast Internet Closes “Digital Divide”, Others Follow

Comcast Internet and the Digital DivideComcast has launched a new initiative, called Comcast Internet Essentials, which aims to bring broadband technology into low income homes. This service, which is currently in its testing phase, will provide 1.5 Mbps broadband connections for $9.95 per month to families that qualify.

Comcast references studies by the Pew Research Center that show only 45 percent of households with incomes below $30,000 per year currently have access to broadband at home. Comcast feels that offering a lower cost alternative can help them break into presently ignored market segments.

Walt Neary, spokesperson for Comcast, recently visited Spokane and explained that Internet Essentials launched this summer and is scheduled to run through 2013. Neary explained that families who participate in the program also are eligible to receive a $150 voucher which they can use towards the purchase of a new netbook computer.

Several other companies such as AT&T, CenturyLink, and Time Warner are currently interested in or are presently instituting broadband programs for low income families.

How do these different services compare?

Comcast Internet Essentials

Cost: $9.95 per month

Speed: Speeds reach up to 1.5Mbps download and 384 Kbps upload

Miscellaneous: Comcast will give families a voucher for $149.99 which will provide them with a netbook computer for use in the program. Comcast will also provide families free computer training. Families simply have to fill out a form, mail it to Comcast, and wait a week to see if they qualify. To qualify for the program families must meet the following criteria:

– The family must be located in Comcast’s service area

– The family must not have subscribed to their service in the last 90 days

– One child or more must be receiving free lunches at school

– The family cannot have outstanding Comcast bills or unreturned equipment
AT&T

AT&T’s current discount broadband program is called “We Are Now Connected.” The program is currently in testing and has been rolled out to approximately 600 low income households in San Diego and Greensboro, North Carolina. AT&T’s program offers free computer training to all families which receive their discount packages.
CenturyLink Internet Basics

Cost: $9.95 per month for the first 12 months. The price increases to $14.95 per month after the trial period ends.

Speed: Speeds reach up to 1.5Mbps download

Families must meet the following criteria to qualify for the program:

– Families cannot have subscribed to CenturyLink within the last 90 days

– Families must be located in CenturyLinks’s service area

– There must be no unpaid bills owed to CenturyLink

To qualify, families must fill out an application online. After their application is reviewed, the family will hear back from CenturyLink about whether they qualify for the program or not.

Time Warner

Time Warner does not have a particular rate for low income families; however, they are currently expanding their “TV Essentials” package. The package offers basic broadband services at discounted prices. People can get download speed of up to 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of 256 Kbps when subscribing to this service.

This is a guest post by Blake Sanders, who is a tech writer at US broadband comparison site Broadband Expert. Blake specializes in industry news and service providers like Comcast internet as well as all technical information.

Note: Photo courtesy of cdharrison via FlickR Creative Commons.

BlakeSanders

Blake is a tech writer with special interests in mobile broadband technology, high speed internet, and industry news and information.