Comcast will continue to offer a low-cost internet plan for low-income families, rather than letting the offer expire later this year. The cable carrier's Internet Essentials plan has offered broadband service to low-income families for $9.95 per month since 2011, when it was launched by Comcast to meet a promise made to the FCC in order to see its NBCUniversal purchase approved. It had only committed to running the program for three years, but now Comcast intends to continue it indefinitely.
300,000 families connected in under three years
The Internet Essentials plan will stay the same: for $9.95 per month, families who have at least one child eligible for the National School Lunch Program and are located in an area Comcast services will be able to get basic internet service, with speeds up to 5Mbps. It also offers families the chance to purchase a computer for $149.99 when they sign up. Eligible families can continue to receive the plan as long as one child in their household continues to use the school lunch program.
Since the program began in 2011, Comcast says that it's connected 300,000 families and sold 23,000 low-cost computers. For that reason, it's likely an FCC favorite: the commission has been pushing for all Americans to have access to affordable internet, and Comcast's program goes a ways toward helping that goal. Comcast is certainly cognizant of that as it once again attempts a major purchase. Comcast says that the offer will extend to all Time Warner Cable customers too, should the merger go through. It's hardly the point that will clear the deal, which has sparked more than a few anticompetitive concerns, but it certainly sweetens it.