Internet Essentials: Another twist on low-cost broadband service for low-income Americans

Comcast, the cable TV giant, is the biggest name in the low-cost internet business with a program called Internet Essentials. If you live in areas of the country served by Comcast and you qualify, you can now get Internet Essentials for just $9.95 per month instead of the $40–60 (after teaser promotions) the company charges for its lowest cost basic plan. As of August 2014, over 1.4 million kids from 350,000 families now are online thanks to the wonderful program.

Consider this important statistic: Only 45% of families earning under $30,000 currently have broadband service in their homes. This puts those parents and their children at a huge disadvantage when it comes to finding and applying for jobs, communicating with doctors, completing homework and other everyday tasks that more affluent families take for granted.

Internet Essentials costs just $9.95 a month and delivers a blazing fast 5.0 Mbps download speed. Qualifying families will even be able to purchase a computer for only $149.99. There are no activation fees and no additional equipment fees.

You also get the world famous Norton Security Suite which gives you professional online security. It’s a $160 value, but you get it absolutely free.

And finally, Internet Essentials gives you free parental control features to help protect your kids whether they’re doing their schoolwork or just playing on the internet.

How to qualify for Internet Essentials

To qualify for Internet Essentials and get a low-cost computer and high-speed internet access for just $9.95 per month, a family must have at least one child eligible to receive a reduced or free school lunch through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) (recently broadened to include students in private schools, parochial schools and homeschooled students). Schools designated at “Provision 2” automatically qualify all students.

There are two restrictions that you must be aware of:

  1. You cannot have been a Comcast internet subscriber in the last 90 days. If you want to get Internet Essentials, you are going to need to cancel (if you contract allows) your service and call Internet Essentials to sign up after three months.
  2. You cannot have a Comcast bills that is over 12 months past due. However, if you have an overdue bill from just within the last 12 months, Comcast has recently changed the rules and will accept you as an Internet Essentials customer, provided you agree to the payment plan they work up to pay off the late bills.
  3. You cannot have any unreturned equipment.

Of course, you have to be in an area served by Comcast, but you’ve got a good chance, since Internet Essentials is available in more than 4,000 school districts in 39 states plus the District of Columbia.

The states we show as having Comcast Cable available are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia (DC). If you don’t see your state on the list, you should still check with Comcast in case they’ve added service in a state since we wrote this.

Contact Information

Internet Essentials:
In Spanish: Internet Basico
Phone: 855-846-8376

Comcast profile:
Profile Page: Comcast Cable

Once enrolled, a customer will be able to continue receiving Internet Essentials service at the same low price as long as at least one child in their household continues to qualify for a reduced or free lunch under the National School Lunch Program.

Internet Essentials originated when Comcast acquired NBC. In order to win FCC approval, Comcast agreed to “increase broadband deployment in low income households” for three years. In 2014 they said they would like to run the program “indefinitely.”

Let’s hope they keep to that plan.

Cities and Towns with Internet Essentials

This is not an exhaustive list but shows most of the cities and towns where Comcast Internet Essentials is available.

Alabama: Bessemer, Birmingham, Dothan, Florence, Gadsden, Huntsville, Madison, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Arkansas: Little Rock, North Little Rock, Arizona: Tucson, AZ

Arkansas: Little Rock, North Little Rock

Arizona: Tucson

California: Alameda, Antioch, Berkeley, Carmichael, Chico, Citrus Heights, Clovis, Concord, Costa Mesa, Cupertino, Daly City, Davis, Elk Grove, Fairfield, Folsom, Fremont, Fresno, Hanford, Hayward, Livermore, Lodi, Los Angeles, Madera, Manteca, Merced, Milpitas, Modesto, Mountain View, Napa, Novato, Oakland, Palo Alto, Petaluma, Pittsburg, Pleasanton, Porterville, Rancho Cordova, Redwood City, Richmond, Roseville, Sacramento, Salinas, San Francisco, San José, San Leandro, San Mateo, San Pablo, San Rafael, San Ramon, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, South San Francisco, Stockton, Sunnyvale, Tracy, Tulare, Turlock, Union City, Vacaville, Vallejo, Visalia, Walnut Creek, Watsonville, Woodland, Yuba City

Colorado: Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Brighton, Broomfield, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Denver, Englewood, Fort Collins, Greeley, Littleton, Longmont, Loveland, Parker, Pueblo

Connecticut: Bristol, Danbury, Hamden, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, New Britain, New Haven, Waterbury, West Hartford

Delaware: Dover, New Castle, Newark, Wilmington

Florida: Apopka, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Bradenton, Brandon, Cape Coral, Clearwater, Clermont, Deland, Delray Beach, Deltona, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, Hialeah, Hollywood, Homestead, Jacksonville, Jupiter, Kissimmee, Lake City, Lake Worth, Lakeland, Lehigh Acres, Miami, Miami Beach, Naples, North Port, Ocala, Opa Locka, Orange Park, Orlando, Palm Bay, Palm Beach Gardens, Panama City, Plant City, Pompano Beach, Port Charlotte, Port Saint Lucie, Punta Gorda, Riverview, Saint Augustine, Saint Cloud, Sanford, Sarasota, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, Valrico, Venice, Vero Beach, West Palm Beach, Winter Haven, Winter Park

Georgia: Acworth, Alpharetta, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Brunswick, Buford, Canton, Carrollton, Cartersville, Conyers, Covington, Cumming, Dallas, Dalton, Decatur, Douglasville, Duluth, Fayetteville, Gainesville, Griffin, Jonesboro, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Lithonia, Loganville, Marietta, Mcdonough, Newnan, Norcross, Powder Springs, Riverdale, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Snellville, Stockbridge, Stone Mountain, Suwanee, Woodstock

Illinois: Arlington Heights, Aurora, Berwyn, Bloomington, Bolingbrook, Champaign, Chicago, Chicago Heights, Cicero, Crystal Lake, Decatur, Des Plaines, Elgin, Evanston, Joliet, Naperville, Orland Park, Palatine, Peoria, Plainfield, Rockford, Round Lake, Schaumburg, Skokie, Springfield, Tinley Park, Waukegan, Wheaton

Indiana: Anderson, Bloomington, Carmel, Columbus, Crown Point, Elkhart, Fishers, Fort Wayne, Gary, Greenwood, Hammond, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, Muncie, Noblesville, South Bend, Valparaiso, West Lafayette

Kansas: Olathe, Overland Park

Kentucky: Bowling Green, Paducah

Louisiana: Bossier City, Houma, Monroe, Shreveport

Maine: Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Dorchester, Fall River, Framingham, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Medford, New Bedford, Quincy, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham

North Dakota: Annapolis, Baltimore, Bel Air, Bethesda, Bowie, Columbia, Ellicott City, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Glen Burnie, Hagerstown, Hyattsville, Laurel, Parkville, Pasadena, Rockville, Salisbury, Silver Spring, Upper Marlboro, Waldorf

Maine: Portland

Michigan: Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Canton, Clinton Township, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, East Lansing, Farmington, Flint, Grand Rapids, Holland, Howell, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Livonia, Macomb, Muskegon, Pontiac, Rochester, Saint Clair Shores, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Taylor, Troy, Utica, Warren, Waterford, West Bloomfield, Westland, Ypsilanti

Minnesota: Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, Osseo, Saint Paul

Missouri: Independence, Kansas City, Lees Summit

Mississippi:Brandon, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Meridian

North Carolina: Burlington

New Hampshire: Manchester, Nashua

New Jersey: Bayonne, Brick, Camden, Cherry Hill, East Orange, Edison, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Lakewood, Newark, Passaic, Plainfield, Toms River, Trenton, Union City, Vineland

New Mexico: Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe

Ohio: Youngstown, Albany, Beaverton, Corvallis, Eugene, Gresham, Hillsboro, Portland, Salem, Springfield

Pennsylvania: Altoona, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Lancaster, Lebanon, Levittown, Mechanicsburg, Norristown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Pottstown, Reading, Scranton, State College, West Chester, Wilkes Barre, York

Rhode Island: Pawtucket

South Carolina: Aiken, Charleston, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Summerville,
Tennessee: Antioch, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Cleveland, Cookeville, Cordova, Franklin, Hendersonville, Jackson, Johnson City, Kingsport, Knoxville, Maryville, Memphis, Murfreesboro, Nashville

Texas: Baytown, Conroe, Cypress, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, League City
Missouri City, Pasadena, Pearland, Richmond, Spring, Sugar Land, Tomball

Utah: Clearfield, Layton, Logan, Ogden, Orem, Provo, Salt Lake City, Sandy, West Jordan

Virginia: Alexandria, Arlington, Ashburn, Centreville, Charlottesville, Danville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Glen Allen, Harrisonburg, Henrico, Herndon, Leesburg, Lynchburg, Manassas, Mechanicsville, Midlothian, Petersburg, Reston, Richmond, Roanoke, Springfield, Stafford, Sterling, Vienna, Williamsburg, Winchester, Woodbridge

Washington: Auburn, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bothell, Bremerton, Everett, Federal Way, Kent, Kirkland, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Marysville, Olympia, Port Orchard, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Seattle, Snohomish, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Yakima

Washington, DC

West Virginia: Charleston, Huntington, Martinsburg, Morgantown

Recent Articles on Internet Essentials

epb internet Low-income Chattanooga residents can now get super-fast cheap internet from city-owned utility - EPB, a municipally-owned electric company in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is now offering low-income residents of the city really high-speed internet at really low prices.
Comcast Time Warner merger Bad news for needy Americans: Comcast announces that its merger with Time Warner Cable is dead - If the Comcast / Time Warner merger would have been approved, Comcast would have likely extended their $9.95/ month low-income Internet Essentials program to Time Warner customers.
wireless router A problem with Internet Essentials: No wireless routers - You’ve done a great job with Internet Essentials, Comcast, but it’s time to start offering your wireless capability as part of the basic Internet Essentials package.
California Internet Essentials California’s bungling bureaucrats try to hijack Comcast’s Internet Essentials program - California's bungling bureaucrats want to wreak their own special brand of havoc upon Comcast's incredibly successful Internet Essentials program.
chart-graph-up Four years of Internet Essentials: The program keeps growing - Internet Essentials just issued its four annual report (February 2015) and the news is good: A lot more Americans are being helped by this great program.
comcast-time-warner-merger California demands more for the poor: Comcast-Time Warner merger approval contingent on additional services for the needy - We agree with the California PUC’s demand that Comcast abstain from working against municipalities that want to bring reliable, high-speed, low-priced internet services to their citizens.
Internet essentials $10 Comcast raises rates, but keeps Internet Essentials at the same affordable $9.95 per month - These are good days to be an Internet Essentials subscriber. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say these are bad days to be a regular cable subscriber.
internet essentials free six months Comcast enhances Internet Essentials: Now offers six months free internet, overdue bill amnesty, and more - New Internet Essentials customers signing on between August 4 and September 20, 2013 will get up to six months of free service. And, the company eliminated the rule that prohibited accounts for anyone with a past due Comcast balance.
School2Home internet Why does Comcast’s Internet Essentials reach just 12% of its target audience? - Comcast just announced that 1.2 million Americans have already signed up for Internet Essentials, the company's low-price (just $9.95 per month), high-speed Internet service for the nation's neediest citizens.
comcast time warner Why the Comcast-Time Warner merger is good for low income Americans - If, as he says, Senator Franken wants to see a clear benefit from the proposed merger between Comcast and Time-Warner, we suggest he take a close look at how many more low-income Americans could gain access to Comcast's outstanding Internet Essentials program.



  1. Rashad Chandler says

    I am 19 years old and I recently had to move in with my grandmother because my mother passed. I was attending vDevry as a special Ed student but had to drop out because my mother is not here to get me there or help me with my registration. I was studying video game programming and I have a computer but I don’t have the Internet and I am unable to work in most places because of my special education status. I would appreciate getting Internet access so that I can practice.

    Thank you

  2. John Vickers says

    I am retired and on a fixed income and live alone. I have no children eligible for a school lunch program.

    However, the Internet is my communication with the outside world and while not disabled I am faced with rising prices and have to make sacrifices in order to balance my household budget.

    I would like to know if I would be considered for “Internet Essentials”?

  3. Becca says

    I am currently a subscriber for comcast. I husband just switched jobs which he got a major cut in pay and so now we have to cut out Internet. Do we still have to wait three months before we can qualify for comcasts internet essentials? Thanks!

  4. Lisa Hansen says

    I can not afford high price internet. I would appreciate very much to be able to get Internet Essentials at a lower cost $9.95 in Vallejo.

    Thank you, Lisa Hansen

  5. thang says

    I have 3 kids and get free lunch at school so i want to know can i get cheap internet for kids and family, how much income for whole family with 5 people to qualify to get this Internet , Thanks.

  6. kathe says

    I am a low-income individual who is disabled. I have no young children who would qualify for school lunch. I would qualify for school lunch. As an adult student do I qualify for internet essentials?

    • Administrator says

      That’s an interesting question. Are you saying that you are in a high school class, where you would qualify for the National School Lunch Program? It has to be high school or under. If you are, even though you don’t “have a child that qualifies for school lunch” it seems like you would be eligible. But we can’t say for sure. Please let us know if you are able to get it.

  7. Sarah says

    Single mom with low income. My children qualify for free lunches based on our income, but they do not attend public school; they go to private school on scholarship and aid. Can I qualify for Internet Essentials since my children would qualify for free lunch if they attended public school?

  8. Matthew O. says

    I am a 24-year-old Aspie who still lives with my mother, who turns off the internet every weeknight at 11:30 PM (12:30 AM during DST). My income is no greater than $7000 a year and I am unable to find a job. I came close once but put my college education, ongoing since fall of 2008, before that one opportunity because I thought it was just as important. My grades have been anything but poor.

    I can understand my mother shutting the internet off that early on nights before I have class in the morning, but on those lonely nights that are followed by a morning of no classes I will need internet access for relaxing entertainment before I go to bed. I have been looking for free-to-cheap unlimited internet access for myself to use independently. So far, almost everything I Googled my place of residence (in Huntington Beach, CA) did not qualify for. Almost everything it did was too expensive. I took a look at the service mentioned in this article but it seems to think the applicants are parents with children which I am not. I cannot lie to them. I cannot pretend to be a parent. If I told my mom about this, it is likely she would say no or would try to control it when I am the one who rightfully owns and pays for the access.

    How can I be independent when I can’t even afford an apartment. I can’t even find acceptable work around my school schedule (work that does not involve janitorial duties in which you have to mentally keep track of what you have cleaned and what you haven’t). What am I going to do?

  9. Angelica says

    Hi, I am an 18 year old student and senior in High School. I get reduced/free lunch at school because recently my parents had kicked me out with no reason. I am currently homeless, but working to get in an apartment. I have low income with my job, and I am currently in Welfare. I graduate at the end of the year, but still have plans to attend college after High School. I am having to support myself, and I need low-cost Internet for my school work and job. Will I be able to still qualify for this program, even though I am the student signing up, and even though I am graduating at the end of this school year but still having plans to continue my education? Would this program also let me have the ability to have a telephone/ home phone with this low-cost Internet program?

    It would be greatly appreciated to know these things and help me with my plans to support myself, while continuing my education. If I do not qualify for this program, I would also appreciate other low-cost Internet programs that I could qualify for.

    Please and Thank You,

    • Administrator says

      We’re sorry to hear of your situation. That’s a good question about if it has to be your parents signing up for Internet Essentials. We would think that you would be able to. If you have any problems try working with someone at your school, who often work directly with Internet Essentials and other companies.

      You can also try Internet Basics (see here), which has other low-income requirements.

      As for the phone, you can probably get a free phone from the government. (See here).

  10. Gathala says

    My grandchildren recieve free lunch, but we have been told there is no internet available in our area. How do find out?

    • Administrator says

      You go to the Internet Essentials website (info above) and check your zip code. Or give them a call.

  11. Sonia says

    Hello, I just qualified for internet essentials and my questions is do you have to have a home phone in order for you to connect?

  12. J says

    Im a single mom with a child with free lunches but they still wont let me have it unless i cancel my current internet for 3 months i can’t do that she has to have it for school work now. Is there any way to get around this?

  13. J Delacruz says

    I am disabled and get Food Stamps, would I be able to qualify without kids because I am a low income disabled person. If not why because I am in need to be able to connect with the internet and just because my kids are grown should not discriminate me.
    Thank you

  14. HNS says

    Hi. I’m a single mom of two. Very minimal income. My son was on reduced/free lunches when in regular school, but is in home school now. Can we qualify?

  15. Wanda Torres says

    I can not afford high priced internet as my social security is only $697.00 per month beginning this new year of 2015. I would appreciate very much to be able to use Broadband at a lower cost than most companies want. I will be 74 years old this coming April.

    W. Torres

  16. Katiana Gedin says

    Hi, my name is Katiana, and i am a single mom of 5. Which 2 of them are special needs and i wanted to have internet but can’t afford it . I am really interested in this program so please let me know how i can have internet or phone at home.

    • Administrator says

      If any of your kids is in school on school lunch program, you can get Internet Essentials, described above.


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