Of the approximately 22 million Comcast Internet subscribers, about a half million connect for only $9.95 a month through the Internet Essentials plan. This bargain-priced plan provides eligible households unlimited Internet at a 5Mbps download speed. Families are eligible if they have a child in the home that is qualified to participate in the National School Lunch program. There is a bit more to qualifying than that, and you can click here for more details.
That’s quite a difference in price from the rates that other Comcast customers pay for their regular plans. Yes, you do get higher speeds with standard plans, but for everyday usage, including watching movies, the Internet Essentials speed is all you really need. Especially if you want to save hundreds of dollars a year.
How many of those 22 million Comcast internet subscribers could possibly switch to Internet Essentials? Considering there are over 30 million children in the National School Lunch program, and millions more who qualify and are not participating, there could be millions of existing Comcast subscribers who could be eligible for the reduced priced internet plan.
So why don’t they all switch? For one thing, not everyone knows about it. Although there are campaigns by schools and even Comcast itself, there is still a lack of awareness of the program.
But more than that, there is a catch. A big catch. One that many who have tried to switch have already found out about.
A person can only qualify for Internet Essentials if they have not been a Comcast internet subscriber during the last 90 days. That means if you are currently a Comcast internet subscriber, you’re going to have to cancel your existing internet plan, find somewhere else to access the internet for three months, and then go back to Comcast to enroll in Internet Essentials.
If your contract has not yet ended when you cancel your existing Comcast account, you will probably be required to pay an early cancellation penalty. And don’t even think about not paying the bill in full or not returning any Comcast equipment, because you’ll automatically be disqualified if you have an existing balance due or unreturned equipment.
Can you live without cable internet for three months? Perhaps for that time period you could pay a next door neighbor ten or twenty dollars a month to have access to their wireless network if it is accessible in your home. If your public library or other public facility with free wifi is nearby can you get by with that for three months? Do you have friends or relatives would would let you stop by and use their wireless connection?
We know it’s tough. This catch makes it very difficult for anyone to switch plans. But it may be doable for some people.
Comcast is still trying to get approval to purchase Time-Warner, and the FCC may force Comcast to be more accommodating with Internet Essentials terms. But it’s impossible to predict if and when Internet Essential’s terms of service may change.