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. And for a limited time, through September 20, 2014, they are giving you the first six months free.

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). If your child qualifies for the free lunch program but doesn’t yet participate, you’ll need to sign up.

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.

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 receive a reduced or free lunch under the National School Lunch Program.

Contact Information

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

Comcast profile:
Profile Page: Comcast Cable

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.

Let’s hope the program ends up running a lot longer than that.

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

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.
big news Big news: Comcast extends Internet Essentials program “indefinitely” - Comcast, the nation's largest cable TV company, is "indefinitely" extending Internet Essentials, the company's subsidized broadband program for low-income families.
khan academy l Comcast’s Internet Essentials and Khan Academy team up to make cheap internet a household name - The Kahn Academy is at it again. This time it's working directly with Comcast to make Internet Essentials, the cheap internet program, a household name known to millions.
internet essentials girls Internet Essentials brings cheap internet to 17,000 low-income Virginians - Comcast just announced that it is now bringing high speed internet access to 17,000 people in 4300 families across Virginia.
netbook low income How you can get a PC (and a lot more) for just $149 if you are low-income - If you’re a low-income American, you can now get a PC that’s completely loaded with all the top software plus computer training for just $149.
internet essentials one million Big news from Comcast: One million low-income customers now get $10 a month Internet Essentials - Comcast just announced that it has now connected one million low-income Americans via Internet Essentials, so it looks like their effort to bridge the digital divide is working.
comcast discounted internet Twice as many Washington, DC families getting cheap internet this year - We’re happy to report some impressive numbers for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program in Washington, DC.
david cohen internet essentials The man who travels the land bringing internet to America’s needy - Comcast's David Cohen is busy! Internet Essentials is growing rapidly and Cohen travels the country touting one success after another.



  1. kathy says

    I want to know if the internet speed offered by Comcast in internet essentials is good for streaming movies like on Netflix

    • Administrator says

      Yes it is, but you could possibly have some issues on High-Definition movies. The Internet Essentials download speed i 5.0 Megabits per second.

      Below are the Internet download speed recommendations per stream for playing movies and TV shows through Netflix.

      0.5 Megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed
      1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed
      3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for SD quality
      5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality
      25 Megabits per second – Recommended for Ultra HD quality

  2. Cynthia Gee says

    Dear “Cheap Internet Administrator”,

    Why doesn’t Comcast give a tinker’s dam (look it up) about OLDER AMERICANS?
    My husband and I are both 56 years old, and he is disabled due to a heart attack and a stroke suffered while undergoing open heart surgery. My husband makes $1472 a month on SS Disability, and the only job I’ve been able to find after months of searching is a part-time graveyard shift at a local convenience store making just over minimum wage.

    WE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE INTERNET TOO, but at our income level, we can afford neither TV nor internet service, and it would really help pass the time for my husband if he could watch TV or play online games. Most senior citizens in our area are in the same boat as are we, financially…. we gave this country the best years of our lives, and now we are forgotten, but I guess you folks at Comcast/Time Warner don’t care about that, do you, you stinking money-grubbing corporate pigs?
    Have a nice day wallowing in your profits, and I hope your company ROTS.

  3. michael lee says

    can you sign my daughter up been waiting for the paper work from you guy for over 2 months daughter needs it for school

    • Cheap Internet Administrator says

      We’re not Internet Essentials. You’ll need to contact them directly. Two months is obviously too long, so something must be wrong.

  4. Guillermo Ascencio Garcia says

    What’s low income how much is toomuch not to qualify has low income family of 3 children plus mom and dad

    • Cheap Internet Administrator says

      There is no income requirement. It’s based solely upon if a child is in the National Free Lunch Program. Of course you can’t get into that if your income is too high.

  5. KaTherine says

    My son just turned 5 and is supposed to start school in the fall The school district has the worst scores and stats I would prefer to home school him. I have cut out so much already the only thing we have is internet but things are going slow money is getting tighter and tighter. it would be great if i could get internet for 10 bucks a month and use the left over for school supplies. i am seeing that my options are to put my child in a horrible school environment just to get a break

  6. Lee Goldman says

    We are presently on Social Security and find our internet service $14.95
    is a little more than our budget can afford after paying our utilities,
    food, and medicines. We would really appreciate a lower price service
    if at all possible. We primarily keep in touch with our family up North
    thru our internet computer service which is also exceptionally very
    slow. Please advise us as to our chances of hooking up to a
    less expensive internet computer service.

  7. Kelly says

    Comcast- worst company ive ever delt with. (I speak for many!)Has been 3 years & still i am still angry with the customer service. I post this not because im angry but this issue includes most family, friends & neighbors. Referring to the link that got me HERE….

    ‘Government concerned: Not enough needy Americans signing up for broadband programs’

    Comcast has a lot of rules-eliminating everyone I know for 1 reason or another.
    No service for last 90 days. so if you have cable, home phone or internet (that u cant afford) U cant have this deal! if you dont have these services (me) its because you probably couldnt afford their services, fell behind & owe them $ (so they say). So if your poor & need this service from Government via the middle man (comcast) TOO BAD-you cant have!
    ‘In addition, you cannot have been a Comcast internet subscriber in the last 90 days and you cannot have any overdue Comcast bills or unreturned equipment.’

    I appreciate the Governments efforts. This is a deal my son can really benifit from I do have internet(not Comcast) but the $50+month could be better spent clothing his butt!

  8. MJ Brewer says

    My situation is extremely complicated in that I have an elementary student who does get free lunch, but her brother has aspergers and requires home school. Since I didn’t know about this project, we’ve been going without necessary food for an adequate diet to afford internet for him. We don’t have television services, only internet and basic phone.

    Our bill just popped about $25/month, along with a couple of other bills, and we’re struggling with hospital bills. I don’t even have a cell phone, but we did see that on another page and will apply today. The point is, I cannot imagine spending the next three months at the library so my son can attend school, aside from it not even opening until 10:00 a.m.

    What can I do? Surely there’s something!

    Thank you,


  9. judith ruth walker says

    If Comcast employed US citizens to answer phones, fill out order forms on computers, at home, near 0 training or education required, then?.. Almost every phone and internet contact with this US company is Out Sourced to other countries, I spent 2 hrs on the phone ordering service for my landlord, a Marine Veteran. When finally done, the salesman asked me “Do you wonder where I am?” Your asking me if I wonder where you are? I asked “Yes” he said. Well, sure, Yes. “I am in Pakistan and its 3:30 am”. It had taken me an hour to figure out that each dept. rep. has a ‘play-book’ they read from and only that. They have no answers at all. They can only repeat the question they ask you. Things went quicker as “would you please repeat that” “I cant understand you”? the one question I asked

  10. Sharon Goss says

    I would like to get my niece enrolled for her two school children ages 11 and 6. The oldest is currently doing a history project which would include pie charts, maps, statistics. A lot for an 11 year old, but the library in our town has limited after school ours for her to make use of a computer and the internet for doing a search.

  11. tammy Renney says

    We just got into a house we were staying in a motel for 3 months but even taking my daughter to the library to do a report for school the library still charges to print her reports 20 pages would cost 5.00 and some reports are longer i get assistants help from the state. DO WE QUALIFY FOR THIS PROGRAM.

  12. Christy says

    My question is What if we go over the amount of internet MB we get?

    Not my email address but my friend let me use it. My son and I don’t have internet.

  13. Irene says

    I know that in order to qualify you need to have a school aged child in the home and to be low income.

    I don’t have a child in the home. I’m 57 with disabilities, and low income. Actually very low income in California.

    Do I qualify, and if so, how do I sign up?

    Thank you,

    Irene :)


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