Keep in mind that this is only a pilot program to test the viability of a cheap Internet program for senior citizens, but as our beloved grandmammy always said, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.”
In other words, what is merely a test program today may well turn into a full-fledged discount on high-speed broadband internet for seniors — one of the most deserving groups that has so far been excluded from Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. That program, as regular CheapInternet.com readers know, is aimed at low-income families with school age children.
If the program goes well, and we have no reason to think it won’t, America’s most deserving demographic will soon be entitled to the same discounts now received by those younger families.
If everything goes well, Comcast will begin offering high-speed Internet for just $9.95 per month to senior citizens across the country. Eligible seniors will also be offered Internet-ready computers for just $150.
Where is the pilot program being conducted?
Comcast is conducting pilot programs in three widely-separated geographic areas — Boston, Massachusetts, Palm Beach County, Florida, and San Francisco County, California.
Eligible senior residents who reside in areas serviced by Comcast cable, will be able to help the cable television giant test the concept. They’ll be able stay in touch with friends and family across town and around the world, and to have access to affordable news, information and entertainment.
Desktop or laptop computer for for seniors. Priced at just $149.99 +tax
Consistent with the rest of the Internet Essentials program, Comcast’s pilot program for seniors is offering your choice of desktop or laptop computers for just $149.99 plus tax. The computers are not new, but they have been completely refurbished and will allow you to close your own personal Digital Divide by getting on the Internet and taking advantage of all it has to offer.
Your Internet Essentials computer comes loaded with Microsoft Office and Norton™ Security Suite and has a 90-day warranty.
How to qualify
Are you eligible for the Internet Essentials Seniors pilot program? Well, of course, the very first requirement is that you must reside in one of the areas in which Comcast is testing the program. In addition to that, there are a few additional requirements:
- You must be 62 years or older
- You must currently participate in another designated federal or state assistance program in the area in which you live
- You must not have subscribed to any Comcast internet service within the last 90 days
- You cannot have outstanding debt to Comcast that’s less than a year old. If otherwise eligible seniors have outstanding debts that are more than one year old, they may still be eligible)
What are those state and federal assistance programs?
Interestingly, there is a big difference between eligibility requirements for regular Internet Essentials and Seniors Internet Essentials.
The regular Internet Essentials program is aimed at families with at least one child who qualifies for the National School Lunch Program. Clearly, very few seniors have school-aged children in their homes, so the eligibility requirements for the Seniors pilot program have wisely been expanded and changed so that they much more closely parallel the requirements for the Lifeline Assistance, the free government cell phone program.
As we noted above, eligible seniors must currently receive at least one of the following forms of state or federal assistance. Here they are:
Federal Assistance Programs
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public House Assistance (Section 8)
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- National School Lunch Program
- Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
- Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TTANF)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
- Head Start
Medicare Extra Help Program
In addition, each of the three pilot program includes state assistance program. Of course, those programs vary from state to state, so here’s a complete breakdown of the programs in which your participation will make you eligible for the seniors pilot program:
Massachusetts Assistance Programs
- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC)
- Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC)
Florida Assistance Programs
- Temporary Cash Assistance
- Emergency Home Energy Assistance for the Elderly Program (EHEAP)
California Assistance Programs
- Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN)
- California Work Opportunity and Responsibility for Kids (CalWORKS)
- Stanislaus County Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (STANWORKS)
- Welfare-to-Work (WTW)
- Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)
- Healthy San Francisco
Congratulations to Comcast
According to the highly-respected Pew Research Center, less than half of seniors (a mere 47% to be precise) have high-speed Internet at home. As bad as that sounds, the stats get even more extreme when you factor in income. Only 25% of seniors with household incomes below $30,000 have access to high-speed broadband internet service.
If this new Comcast pilot program is as successful as we expect it to be, those statistics are sure to soar upward when Comcast rolls out a full Seniors Internet Essentials program somewhere down the road.
From our point of view, and from the point of view of America’s low-income seniors, it can’t happen soon enough.
For more information on the Internet Essentials pilot program for seniors, call 855-850-4550.