Comcast Offers Reduced Price Internet to Low-Income Families

Comcast’s recently launched Internet Essentials program offers a reduced monthly internet rate to low-income families. The company hopes that less affluent families will be able to afford the $9.95 price tag (reduced from nearly $50) and that improved access to the internet will help children from low-income households do better in school.

This program is more than an advertising gimmick designed to lure customers with the promise of an initial low price. To be eligible for the reduced monthly rate, “families must have a least one child who qualifies for the free lunch program — that means an income of less than $25,000 a year for a family of three.” Comcast Vice President David Cohen stated that the severely reduced price is “a permanent price, not a promotional price.”

But mere access to the internet is not enough; after all, public and school libraries usually offer free internet access to students. Comcast will also provide coupons that will allow families to buy a PC for $150, as well as digital literacy kits to provide support for establishing e-mail accounts and preventing kids from accessing obscene material online.

The question is, will improved internet access really help low-income kids do better in school? While it is important to ensure that every child has the same opportunities and access to information as his or her peers, technology is clearly not a substitute for good teachers and adequate time spent on homework and reading assignments.

A government article on the effect of technology in the classroom suggests that the use of technology allows students to be “in an active role rather than the passive role of recipient of information transmitted by a teacher, textbook, or broadcast. The student is actively making choices about how to generate, obtain, manipulate, or display information.” The article suggests that this control over the learning process leads to “increased motivation and self-esteem.” Internet access also makes it easier to research colleges and financial aid programs, a key factor in getting students to enroll in higher education.

On the other hand, technology in general, and specifically the internet, can lead to distractions and decreased efficiency. Who hasn’t tried to write four e-mails at once while instant messaging a friend, uploading pictures to Facebook, and doing homework at the same time? Today, that list of multi-tasking activities practically defines the high school and college experience.

The Internet Essentials program will provide many low-income families with a great service that many people in America take for granted — reliable high-speed internet access. Whether or not this move represents a bridge in the achievement gap remains to be seen.

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Photo credit: stuartpilbrow

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Daleen F.2 years ago

I think this is a very good thing to offer. Many parents do not have transportation or get off work in time to take their kids to a library. Libraries have limited computer time and computers to use. Schools often require reports and research which must be done on a computer- mandatory. Parents with low incomes may also use computers for online college courses and other educational needs. I do believe internet access has to potential to help lift people out of poverty and increase their awareness- through education, access to information, advice on budgeting, parenting, work, homework help for their kids, etc.

I would like to see the program expanded and offered to anyone with low income- seniors and people without children.

irene fernandez
irene Fernandez4 years ago

That is really good

Yvonne C.
Von D.4 years ago

They always had access, just go to the library it is really free there. Boo Hoo, they might have to look something up old school. If you want an education you can get one, if you don't it doesn't matter how much stuff someone gives you it won't make any difference. Where did this crap of internet being a right come from anyway? It's complete nonsense. Half the world still doesn't have it and get along just fine, they still know how to do things for themselves.

Patty C.
Patty Cook4 years ago

If this can be done for low income families - it can be done for all.

April Thompson
April Thompson4 years ago

Very impressed!

Lilithe Magdalene

At 41 I am CONSTANTLY looking up historical, scientific, political, cultural, mathematical, grammatical and semantical (probably not a word LOL!) on the internet. There may be distractions, but today's kids are hardwired for it. The internet is mandatory in this day and age, and I feel it should be free to everybody. Period.

Faith Purdy
Faith Purdy4 years ago

this is a great idea! i use the internet almost every time i have a question about my homework, especially math. the internet is a great tool for studying, doing homeowork, researching colleges, and preparing for SAT's.

Stacey S.
Stacey S.4 years ago

This should be offered to all low income families, not just those with children. Elderly, & disabled.

Past Member
Past Member 4 years ago

Good! Now what about the elderly and disabled?????

William K.
William K.4 years ago

Cable services are outrageously overpriced.