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 10 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 your internet now comes with a wireless router.

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

senior citizen internet It’s about time: Comcast develops pilot program to bring high-speed internet to low-income seniors - Comcast is addressing one of the Internet Essential program's biggest shortcomings by conducting a pilot program designed to bring Internet Essentials to low-income senior citizens.
Internet essentials high-speed Twice as nice: Comcast doubles the speed of low-income Internet Essentials program - Internet Essentials has made their outstanding program even better by doubling its speed from 5 Megabytes per second to 10 Mbps., and giving customers a free wireless router.
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.


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  1. Selma says

    I would like to know if I qualify for your low income program for internet. I do not have a child in school. I live in Northport, NY. 11768. Please let me know if your company has internet service in my area for low income. Thank you, I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. kimrie says

    How do I sign up for this. Im a single mother of two kids in school. The age of them are five and eight years 9ld. And we leave off a check once a month of 440.00 thanks

  3. Christine Hurst says

    i have a young adult (age 20, soon to be 21 in late Oct.) who has autism. He lives in a facility and spends as much time with me, his mother. Could I be eligible for this program ? I also receive food stamps for myself and have medi-cal from the state.
    My services end Sept. 22, 2015 with Universe AT&T. Can you please help me to obtain low income internet services?

    Christine Hurst

  4. Jennifer Brashear says

    I would like to know if this offer is available where I live. (Keyser, WV 26726) I receive food stamps, live in low income housing and I am homeschooling my son.

  5. Paula Archila says

    My daughter get free launch we get food stamps and the only thing I receive is my social security disability I would like to know if we qualify for the $9.95 internet I live in Tampa, FL 33612