|Comcast's $10 for Poor Families a Good Thing|
|Tuesday, 20 September 2011 20:54|
I respectfully disagree, Karl.You're right about the limits and I am unsatisfied with "back of the bus" slow service. But unlike most of what comes from D.C., there's some substance in Comcast's $10 offer to poor families.
It's not like the AT&T/BellSouth plan that tried to make sure no one signed up. Comcast is actively promoting the program around the country. Sure that gets them good pr, but when they are doing the right thing I don't begrudge them.
All the "demand side initiatives" funded literally into the billions have produced unbelievably few signups and certainly less than 2M. Nearly everyone in this society knows what the internet and broadband are. They don't need some middle class bureaucrat "teaching" them about the "value of broadband."
70% or so of homes are already signed up. Many of the remaining 30% aren't interested so no program will help them. Many are uninterested for sensible reasons, like having access at work. Something like a quarter of the non-subscribers are functionally illiterate and don't have much use for the net. Many others don't really have much need given where they are in life.
By far the largest group who don't have broadband but would like it are those held back by the cost. The common price of low speed in the U.S. has gone up from $150-200/year in 2007 to $270/year because of a spineless FCC and weak competition. Ordinary service at 3-10 megabits typically is $400-600.
That's a heck of a lot if you're poor, so it's no surprise many people don't have broadband because they can't afford it. Comcast is perhaps 40% of the U.S.. If other carriers matched this offer, several million more would be reached. That's actually a significant fraction of those who don't have Internet but want it. It's not enough, but it's a good thing.
Karl Bode's original report
Comcast Highlights $10 Broadband in DC
Hopes Nobody Notices Few People Can Get It
One of the few conditions faced by Comcast when they acquired NBC Universal was that the company had to offer $10 broadband to any household making less than $24,000 a year -- for three years. It was actually a condition Comcast volunteered, and it's giving them a lot of PR mileage as the company deploys the program around the country. After promoting the program in Miami, Delaware the company kicked off the program at Ballou High School in the District of Columbia alongside FCC boss Julius Genachowski.
Comcast's "Internet Essentials Program delivers 1.5 Mbps down, 384 kbps service for $10 a month with no fees, the option to purchase a $150 computer, and digital literacy training. The company today stated that they plan to offer the program in 4,000 school districts in 39 states and the District of Columbia this school year. Comcast estimates 1.5 million to 2 million families are eligible for the program, though in reality those numbers are likely substantially lower.
There's a few caveats to the program insiders tell us are keeping many from signing up. Applicants must qualify for the National School Lunch Program (families must make less than $24,000 annually), they can't owe Comcast money or equipment, and they can't currently have service from Comcast or have had service in the last 90 days. The past-due bill restriction, not too uncommon for low-income households, is the largest impediment for most qualified users according to our source.