Comcast’s Internet Essentials, a program designed to eliminate the huge gap in home internet usage between rich and poor Americans, just issued its four annual report (February 2015) and the news is good: A lot more Americans are being helped by this great program.
Cable TV companies have targets on their backs and everyone loves to attack them. There may be lots of legitimate reasons to criticize Comcast, but we think it deserves a big pat on the back for the success of Internet Essentials.
More than 450,000 low-income American families have now signed up for Internet Essentials. That means 1.8 million people who couldn’t afford the costs of home internet are now being served at greatly reduced rates.
Here are the top 10 metro areas and top 10 states where Internet Essentials is achieving its greatest success:
|Top 10 Areas||Lifetime Connects||Penetration Rate|
|Top 10 States||Lifetime Connects||Penetration Rate|
“We are justifiably proud of Internet Essentials, which is now indisputably the nation’s leading broadband adoption program for low-income Americans,” Comcast said in a press release. “Compared to other similar programs that disclose actual connections (as opposed to much less reliable results based on opinion survey research), Internet Essentials outpaces all other low-income adoption programs.”
In October, 2014 we ran an article titled “CenturyLink’s Internet Basics: Not Living Up to Its Potential“. Considering the success of Comcast’s Internet Essentials, you can’t blame it for making the same point.
“…CenturyLink’s program, modeled off of Internet Essentials and similarly adopted as a condition in the Qwest Communications transaction in 2011, reports only 27,536 enrollments in the last three years. And this past fall, Cox’s broadband adoption program reported 15,000 enrollments after more than two years of effort.”
Touché, Comcast, touché.
The real question to be answered is, why after four years has Internet Essentials, the nation’s leading cheap internet program, penetrated only 17% of its potential customers? Is it a result of digital illiteracy, perceived lack of relevance of the internet in their lives, technophobia, the cost of service, or something else? Comcast attempts to provide an answer:
“As one survey-based study sponsored by the NTIA and conducted by two FCC economists and two analysts from Connected Nation reveals, about two-thirds of non-adopters would not consider subscribing to the Internet at home at any price. Additional research by the NTIA has shown that nearly half of non-adopters say they don’t need the Internet at home or are not interested.”
Internet Essentials is attempting to respond to that survey by combining low-priced internet access with formal training and education.
Those who are eligible but have not yet signed up for Internet Essentials may want to peruse the results of a survey the company conducted among its current customers. It’s hard to imagine a product getting higher marks from its users.
Here are some specific results:
- 98 percent said their kids use the Internet service to do schoolwork and, of these respondents, 95 percent said it has had a positive impact on their child’s grades.
- 92 percent said they would recommend Internet Essentials to friends and family and, of these customers, 85 percent have already done so.
- 89 percent said they are satisfied with the program.
- 85 percent said they use the Internet service every day or almost every day.
- 54 percent use it for job hunting, and of these, 65 percent feel that having the Internet at home has helped them find a job.
What’s the message that Comcast wants to communicate to those who have not yet taken advantage of its great Internet Essentials service?
In plain English, “You don’t know what you’re missing.”
Click here to learn more about Internet Essentials.