The program, called Internet Essentials, will "provide low-cost access to the Internet and affordable computers as well as digital literacy training to families with children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program," according to the company's blog.
Internet service provided through Internet Essentials features download speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 384 Kbps. The plan costs $9.95 per month (plus tax) and is available for families that:
-- Are located where Comcast offers Internet service (currently in 39 states)
-- Have at least one child receiving free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program
-- Have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days
-- Do not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment Upon enrollment, new customers have the opportunity to buy a "netbook-style laptop computer" for $149.99 (plus tax).
It supports wired and Wi-Fi Internet connectivity and includes the Windows 7 Starter operating system and Internet browser software. Comcast has launched websites in English and Spanish to promote the offering. The program will continue to accept new customers for "three full school years," according to the product's FAQ page.
While this project seems like a goodwill initiative on part of the giant communications provider, it is actually a byproduct of the Comcast-NBC merger, in which the company agreed to "increase broadband deployment in low income households" as one of a number of conditions to the acquisition.
Whether Comcast plans to continue the program after the terms of the condition expire or not, we hope this initiative helps push the United States one step closer to closing the digital divide between the "haves" and "havenots."
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