Cable TV giant Comcast has caved in to demands from the Federal Communications Commission and protesters that the company more aggressively market its cheap government broadband internet services, “Internet Essentials.”
Back in January 2011, Comcast agreed to “visibly offer and actively market” an inexpensive internet program in order to win FCC approval of its controversial merger with NBC Universal.
But the FCC later condemned Comcast for conducting an insufficient promotional effort for the cheap internet service. The commission accused Comcast of a trifecta of misdeeds — ignoring the program in direct mail efforts, burying information about the service on its website, and not offering the service at its retail stores.
Sadly, it reminds us of the old joke about the Washington, DC theater critic who said, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”
The Huffington Post quotes FCC spokesman Neil Grace as saying, “The bureau investigated and found that while Comcast had made some efforts to comply, it had failed to fully implement the condition.”
Comcast has now agreed pay an $800,000 fine. And that’s just the beginning. They’ve also agreed to offer the Internet Essentials program a year longer than they had original agreed to (until Feb. 21, 2015). They must also create and fund an ad campaign dedicated to promoting the bargain internet services in 2013, implement a training program dedicated to teaching its employees how to sell the service, and set up a dedicated page on its website aimed at explaining the program.
Since Comcast introduced Internet Essentials, the cheapest of its cheap internet options, last fall, protesters have charged that the cable giant failed to market the low income internet program aggressively enough.
They set up camp outside Comcast’s Philadelphia headquarters last January to bring attention to the fact that Comcast’s weak promotional efforts had resulted low awareness of the program among in too few low-income residents. Their primary concern was that that lack of awareness had kept many qualified customers from taking advantage of the cheap internet program.
According to the Huffington Post, Comcast also caved to the protesters and “… announced it would expand the eligibility of the program to include families with children eligible for reduced school lunches, double the speed of the program’s Internet service and streamline the application process.”
Go for it, Comcast. Market your cheap internet programs with all the gusto you’ve always promoted your higher-priced programs. There are millions of low income Americans who desperately need the services you offer.
Source: Huffington Post