State Laws/Franchising

Comcast Touts Low-Cost Broadband In Miami, Delaware

8/04/2011 5:12 PM Eastern

Comcast staged events Thursday in Miami and Delaware to promote its broadband offering for low-income families -- Internet Essentials -- a 1.5-Mbps downstream service priced at $9.95 per month that it is required to offer under the FCC conditions on the NBCUniversal deal.

Comcast hosted a similar event in Chicago in May, with an appearance by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to publicize the federally mandated program there.

Currently, the Internet Essentials package can be ordered anywhere in Comcast's service areas, by calling 1-855-8-INTERNET. According to a Comcast spokeswoman, the operator is conducting a PR campaign over the next few weeks in markets across the country to raise awareness of the Internet Essentials package.

Internet Essentials -- which Comcast is required to offer through the end of the 2013-14 school year -- is available to low-income families with children who are eligible to receive a free school lunch as part of their enrollment in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, a household of three would have to make less than $25,000 annually to qualify for the program.

The Comcast program also provides a voucher to purchase a computer for $149.99 plus tax and access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in person.

In Delaware, Comcast enlisted Gov. Jack Markell to help promote Internet Essentials in the state.

"Access to the Internet is important for Delaware parents looking for jobs or researching the best options for their families. Young people who enter the work world already computer literate have a head start in this digital economy," Gov. Markell said in prepared remarks. "I commend Comcast for this effort to bring broadband access into more homes and expand access to computer and digital literacy. Delaware is proud to participate."

In Miami, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen announced that Internet Essentials will be rolled out in more than 4,000 school districts in 39 states and the District of Columbia. He noted that Internet Essentials is especially relevant to the Hispanic community given that Hispanic children make up 32% of all children receiving free lunches through the NSLP.

Comcast hosts information about Internet Essentials at www.internetessentials.com in English and www.internetbasico.com in Spanish.

The Internet Essentials package, which provides 1.5 Mbps downstream and 384 Kbps upstream, includes the Norton Security Suite for no additional cost, which is a $160 value, according to Comcast.