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, Pittsburgh, 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.


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  1. Josh Miller says

    Note to the writers, 5 Mbps download IS NOT BROADBAND!

    The minimum broadband download speeds now begin at 25Mbps.

  2. Luanne says

    Why is this low income program ONLY FOR HOUSEHOLDS WITH CHILDREN? I’m too young to collect social security, but was laid off due to my age. My benefits have run out and I can’t seem to get a break! Isn’t there a program for folks like myself?

  3. Salomea Swaim says

    I am a senior, single, and living on $869. a month Social Security. I have been looking for work for over 2 years now, even though I’m 65. I cannot live on this income, and I am constantly trying to find ways to save $$. A friend told me that Comcast had a special program for low income people. I have no children, yet, I earn less than a living income.

    Is there a program for me, that includes wireless, and phone? I have previously used wireless as a way to work from home, and my rural area requires that I have a phone that is not a cell phone.

    Please contact me with ideas/solutions. Thanks. SAS

  4. Donna Freeman says

    I live in saline county ar and am interested in how I can get cheap internet for 9.95 monthly I have two children in middle school that get free lunch and live in apartment thank you

  5. Lorraine Eakins says

    I have had internet essential since April of 2015 this internet sevices was offer to me for the first 6 months free of charge I am without sevices because Comcast says I owe them money. I have call both office Comcast and Interne Essentia with no succes. Can someone please contact me 267-582-****

  6. Nancy says

    So I just tried to get Internet Essentials. I should qualify in every way. When I applied on the website I got a message with a phone number saying to call to verify my address because the website didn’t recognize my address. I called and spoke to someone who asked me for my address. Then he said that my address does not qualify. I’m not sure why…I live in low to moderate income housing. Very strange…

    P.S. I’m also not happy that I had to enter my social security number in the application on the website.

  7. s . Haggerty says

    What about low income families where children are grown and gone ? As long as we meet income guidelines , we should still qualify.

  8. QIANG ZHOU says

    Thank you so much for this wonderful help!
    As a low income family, with a boy who will go to school in this September, I want to learn more about this.

  9. linda sagahon says

    Send me a petition to sign up about the Essential program. It sounds like it is only for individuals that just have children. In my eyes, and wallet, Comcast has overpriced a lot of their services, including the internt. I cannot afford to have internet. I think I should apply to all of us with low income and not just individuals with children. Please don’t get me wrong I love children and respect responsible parents! I just want to say that I am under the poverty level by close to 200%. I like having the internet and really need it cheaply. Living in CO. Thanks for your time!

  10. Rebecca Owens says

    How do I sign up for low cost internet. Page talks a good talk but have yet found out to sign up, what’s up with that??

  11. Age Discrimation says

    Dear Old People (LOL) ,

    Someway, somewhere, somehow our tax dollars to support this program.

    Comcast is ripe for a Class Action Lawsuit to open this program up to low income people regardless of age. Let’s contact AARP and demand they file a class action lawsuit and sue the pants off these discriminatory bigots.

    Stand up. Fight Back…this is total B.S.!