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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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.
If you aren’t able to get Internet Essentials in your area, or if you have trouble qualifying, take a look at our exhaustive list of low-income internet providers to find one that might be able to help you. And keep up with the latest developments on our news and blog page.
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
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
Massachusetts: Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Dorchester, Fall River, Framingham, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Medford, New Bedford, Quincy, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham
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
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
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
West Virginia: Charleston, Huntington, Martinsburg, Morgantown