updated 07:18 am EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
New measures attempt to make Comcast Internet Essentials cheaper for low-income families
Comcast is attempting to make it easier for low-income families to have Internet access, by lowering the cost even further. The telecommunications giant will be providing its Internet Essentials tier free for up to six months to new eligible users, while qualifying families unable to take part due to existing debts to the company will be able to benefit from an amnesty program.
Timed to coincide with the new school year, new families approved for Internet Essentials before September 20 will receive the six-month free service, before reverting to the $10 monthly charge, reports Ars Technica. Families in debt to Comcast will still be able to sign up for the service, even if they have outstanding bills over one year old, as part of the amnesty. Households with more recent unpaid bills than the one-year cutoff will still need to settle their accounts before being able to sign up for Internet Essentials.
Internet Essentials provides a 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload-rate connection to qualifying families, with the scheme also offering computers for $150 at enrollment. Since it started the scheme, it has sold close to 30,000 of the subsidized computers, and has signed up 350,000 families to the service.
While the Internet Essentials changes could be considered altruistic, some may find it to be an attempt by Comcast to gain favor from regulators before the FCC makes its decision over the prospective Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.