Last Friday, Comcast announced a new initiative that will hopefully make broadband Internet more easily accessible to low-income families. The plan will provide broadband internet at a cost of only $10 per month to families that meet certain requirements regarding income, family size and a few other details. One of the additional requirements is that the family in question has at least one child that is qualified to receive a free school lunch under the NSLP, which gives you general idea of the income level they’re targeting. In addition, families can receive a $149.99 voucher for the purchase of a new computer.
Of course, that is not to say that the offering would be available to all families that might qualify financially. Other requirements include, of course, being in an area where Comcast provides service, not having subscribed to Comcast Internet service in the past 90 days and not having any outstanding balance to Comcast. If you manage to fit all those critera, however, it’s a great deal. As a bonus, Comcast has pretty high and reliable speeds.
This marks an interesting evolution in our changing relationship to broadband Internet, which is becoming more and more of a necessity, especially for students. Until now, the alternatives to expensive high speed Internet plans were pretty inconvenient. School and public libraries that can be crowded, difficult for children to get to, and full of ancient equipment or a dial-up connection. Yes, NetZero still offers dial-up at $9.99 a month (but probably not for much longer). Granted, the availibilty of this service is still pretty tightly restricted, mostly by the need to be in an area serviced by Comcast, but this move to bring affordable broadband to those who might not be able to afford it otherwise reflects the growing importance of Internet service. In the future, better Wi-Fi technology should make physical location less of a barrier to entry, but until then, this seems like a step in a good direction.