Originally published: December 22, 2011
Last updated: December 23, 2011 - 3:53am
Action United, an activist group of low- and moderate-income residents, says Comcast's discounted Internet program for poor children needs to be improved and more heavily advertised.
Comcast launched the $9.95-a-month Internet service this school year to help close the gap in Internet access between low-income and wealthier families. The nation's largest provider of residential Internet service agreed to the program during negotiations with the Federal Communications Commission over its purchase of NBC Universal. Based on an informal survey of 107 families, Action United said 62 percent of respondents had not heard of Comcast's $9.95-a-month service, while almost three-quarters of the respondents said they would have considered applying for it if they had been aware of it. Action United also says that people seem to have a hard time qualifying for the service. A family can participate if its children are enrolled in the federal school-lunch program. Action United said that of the 107 families who qualified for the school-lunch program, only eight had applied for Internet Essentials. Two of the families were approved and Comcast was sending them paperwork, said Elly Porter-Webb, Action United parent organizer. Comcast told the other families they were not eligible because of past unpaid cable bills or because they had an existing Internet service, even though the families had children in the federal school-lunch program. "There are too many obstacles," Porter-Webb said.
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