Friday, November 1, 2013

A little sanity for the working poor from Comcast...Hopefully.

When I write, it's usually about the crazy, insane things happening in my life. However, this is more of a public service message, that I want as many people who need it to know about.

If you currently can't afford internet for your home, but would like to have it instead of gathering up everyone to go to your local library between the hours of 9 and 6 (which might require a couple of bus transfers to get there), then this program might be the answer. Comcast now offers an "Internet Essentials" plan that allows families that have a least one child eligible to receive reduced or free lunches, to have broadband internet in their home for $9.95 a month plus tax.

The program has actually been around for a couple of years now, but I think it's finally been tweaked enough that it's worth looking into if you qualify. Most importantly, they recently increased the speed for this program to 5 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. There are no installation fees or equipment fees, and the price is fixed for life as long as you continue to meet the qualifications. There is also the opportunity upon qualifying for the service to purchase a computer for $150. I know that can still be a big chunk of money for a family who has an income tight enough that they need any of these services, but it might be worth looking into.

Now for the qualification details:
  1. You must live in an area where Comcast service is offered.
  2. You must have at least one child that is eligible to receive reduced or free lunches.
  3. You can't currently subscribe or have subscribed in the last 90 days to Comcast Internet service.
  4. You can't have any overdue bills with Comcast OR unreturned equipment.
Unfortunately, those four qualifications, are going to eliminate a lot of people that still really could benefit from this service. To be honest, Comcast probably doesn't really care if anybody signs up for this program. Low income customers are not their target market, but at $9.95/month they're not losing money on this deal since it's using infrastructure that's already in place. Plus, if some poor person stops paying, they just cut them off after a couple of months and send them to collections, like all their other customers. However, every time someone signs up, they get to add it to their tally to point to and say look how many poor people we're helping to educate by providing cheap internet in their home. This is good for Comcast, because they've been buying up the internet market (and NBC, but that's another story). So when people start pointing fingers saying Comcast is becoming a monopoly, they can say but we make sure everyone can afford to have internet in their home.*

*Don't look at the old person on a fixed income, the childless couple, the single person just out of college earning $8/hr with their bachelor's degree, or the family that is just beyond the lunch qualification and chooses providing lunch for their kids over internet at home. Look away! Okay, rant over.

However, the reality is there are a lot of people who do qualify, and I hope they sign up for it. Oh, one more improvement that has occurred this year with the program. Look at the wording on qualification number 2. You just have to be eligible to receive reduced or free lunches. What that means is that they've opened up who qualifies to families of children in private, parochial, cyber, and home schools in addition to public schools. See this article from Comcast, if you don't believe me.

If you think you might qualify, contact Comcast by calling 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376). If you have access to the internet somewhere, you can go to (English) or (EspaƱol). If you know someone that could benefit from this program, please mitigate their insanity just a little and let them use your computer or phone to apply.

Finally, if you don't live in an area where Comcast internet is available. Try calling them up, explain what Comcast is doing and ask nicely if they have a similar program. If you get the cold shoulder, try writing a letter to the president of the company. Hand write it and send it via snail mail explaining that you have to contact them via pen & paper, because his/her company is more greedy than Comcast and on your limited income, you opted to feed your children over paying their high priced internet fees. Just a thought.