Comcast, the nation’s largest cable TV company, offers high speed internet to needy families for just $9.95 per month. But not many people are taking them up on this outstanding offer. Why?
The program, called Internet Essentials, is supposed to increase broadband internet usage among low-income families. It’s a great deal, because Comcast offers a 79% discount on its regular price to families with children who participate in the national free school lunch program. Mysteriously, though, very few families have signed up for the inexpensive service.
Comcast has a couple theories to explain why so few families are participating, but CheapInternet.com has another possible explanation.
Comcast’s insulting explanation is that few people participate because people in poor neighborhoods don’t understand the Internet.
“They think it may be used for Comcast or the government to spy on them,” said David Cohen, executive vice president at Comcast. The company’s other explanation? Poor Americans don’t apply for the discounted service because they think it’s a scam.
Experts’ best guesses say that 2.3 million families are eligible for Internet Essentials, but so far only 100,000 have signed up with Comcast.
“I love this program,” Cohen added. “I can’t tell you how proud I am that we have signed up 100,000 families to the Internet.”
Don’t be quite so proud, Mr. Cohen. Sure, Comcast is advertising the program, but critics say that’s only because they were ordered to by the Federal Communications Commission in order to win FCC approval of its controversial merger with NBC Universal. More recently, the FCC condemned Comcast for conducting insufficient promotional effort for the cheap internet service, accusing them of ignoring the program in direct mail efforts, burying information about the service on its website, and not offering the service at its retail stores.
We give needy Americans a lot more credit. If Comcast really wants to help more of them to sign up for Internet Essentials, we suggest that they give it a prominent spot on Comcast’s homepage instead of hiding it. Fact is, it’s almost impossible to find the program on the Comcast site. In fact, the only way we found it at all was by doing a full site search, which lead us to a link to a completely different website.
Bang the Internet Essential drum louder, Comcast. Help the Americans who really need the help.