Light Reading
MSO hits the national stage with $9.95-per-month Internet service targeted to low-income families with schoolchildren

Comcast Goes Big With 'Internet Essentials'

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
9/20/2011
50%
50%

Following initial launches in markets such as Chicago, Philadelphia and Hartford, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) went national Tuesday in Washington, D.C., with its Internet Essentials program and its promise to help low-income families afford access to cable modem services.

"We are treating this as the national launch of the program," Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen tells Light Reading Cable. He was joined at the launch, held at the Ballou High School, by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

Internet Essentials, a voluntary commitment linked to Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal LLC , targets impoverished households with school-age children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the federally assisted National School Lunch Program. Qualified households (PDF) will receive discounted Internet service (1.5Mbit/s down by 364kbit/s up) from Comcast at $9.95 per month, a $149.99 voucher to be used toward the purchase of a PC and access to a free digital literacy training regimen. Acer Inc. and Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) are supplying computer equipment for the program, with Comcast subsidizing part of the cost, Cohen says.

Comcast is also waiving activation and equipment fees and promising not to increase the monthly price for as long as families qualify for the offer. As a standalone service, Comcast's Economy tier, which provides the same speeds as Internet Essentials, runs about $47 per month with the equipment lease included.

In addition to being eligible under the NSLP free school lunch program, families must also live in an area where Comcast offers Internet service, must not have subscribed to that service within the last 90 days and must not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned MSO equipment.

Why this matters
The national rollout fulfills one of several conditions tied to the NBCU deal while also fitting within the aims of the FCC National Broadband Plan.

Comcast has rolled out Internet Essentials in all markets, but says it's too early to say how many kids are signed up for it. Cohen notes that the eligibility process typically takes two to three weeks and many schools have not even been open that long.

Internet Essentials is also a 2.0 version of sorts of a similar program the cable industry launched in 2009. The effort, called Adoption Plus (A+), was to provide free cable modem installations in addition to a 50 percent discount on cable modem service. (See Cable Offers 50% Broadband Discount to School Lunch Bunch.)

"We didn't like the price target of that program," which was about $15, Cohen said, adding that it "was the best the industry could do at the time. We thought the price needed to be $10." Adoption Plus also targeted only at middle school students, so Internet Essentials also takes that commitment a step further by applying to a larger group of eligible families and students.

For more
Read more about Internet Essentials and the FCC National Broadband Plan.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
msilbey
50%
50%
msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 4:53:04 PM
re: Comcast Goes Big With 'Internet Essentials'


I remember our household Prodigy account was $10/month in the early 1990s. At the time, the cost was significant, not only because that was 20 years ago (when $10 also filled up our gas tanks, by the way), but also because large monthly entertainment subscription fees were not the norm. 


The Comcast program is fantastic. Internet access is too important not to make it available to lower-income households. However, the program also highlights just how much cable has adjusted our expectations around monthly bills in the last two decades. ARPU is at an all-time high, and $10 a month sounds not only reasonable today, but practically laughable compared to standard broadband fees. It's a remarkable attitude shift in a relatively short period of time.

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:53:01 PM
re: Comcast Goes Big With 'Internet Essentials'


That takes me back. Prodigy was my first ISP, started subscribing well before they opened it up to the Web and my user name was something like YT6QIFG, which went well with my screaming 14.4 US Robotics modem.


Also, guess it's smart for Comcast to call this Internet Essentials, rather than Broadband Essentials, since the speed of that tier doesn't meet the FCC's definition of broadband. JB

AESerm
50%
50%
AESerm,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:53:00 PM
re: Comcast Goes Big With 'Internet Essentials'


I know this offer is paired with the NBCU deal, as a voluntary condition, so Comcast deserves praise. Here's also a small shout-out to Bernstein Research, which has been tracking the income/broadband equation for about two years. Whie I follow experts who think that expenditures measure poverty more accurately than income (Bernstein relied on income data) Craig Moffett has socialized this issue quite effectively within the industry. Bottom line may come from industry gadfly and Fast Net News editor Dave Burstein, who hit the nail with his head when (last December) he called the Comcast offer "a remarkable move that goes far beyond any previous U.S. program."

Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Custom TV
Using Service Quality to Drive WiFi Monetization

10|22|14   |   6:51   |   (0) comments


Live from the SCTE conference: Heavy Reading's Alan Breznick explores the forces shaping the WiFi opportunity in an interview with CableLabs' Justin Colwell and Amdocs' Ken Roulier.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 2

10|21|14   |   8:51:00 AM   |   (0) comments


ARRIS CTO Network Solutions Tom Cloonan discusses why many if not most MSOs will continue with integrated CCAP, while addressing why some are also looking at two futuristic, distributed access architectures: Remote PHY and Remote CCAP.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 1

10|21|14   |   9:01   |   (0) comments


SCTE Sr. Director of Engineering Dean Stoneback discusses the pros and cons of distributed access architecture (DAA) and its various forms, which range from basic Remote PHY to full CMTS functionality in the node.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 2

10|21|14   |   3:58   |   (0) comments


ARRIS Senior Solution Architect Eli Baruch talks about how MSOs can enable public and community WiFi through 1) outdoor access points, 2) businesses seeking to offer WiFi to customers, and 3) residential WiFi gateway extensions.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 1

10|21|14   |   10:15   |   (0) comments


SCTE Director of Advanced Technologies Steve Harris discusses WiFi deployments, drivers, challenges and advances, including 802.11ac, carrier-grade WiFi, community WiFi, Hotspot 2.0, Passpoint, WiFi-First and voice-over-WiFi.
LRTV Custom TV
Advantech Accelerates 100G Traffic Handling

10|17|14   |   7:56   |   (0) comments


Paul Stevens from Advantech explains why handling 100GbE needs a whole new platform design approach and how Advantech is addressing the needs of equipment providers and carriers to give them the flexibility and performance they will need for SDN and NFV deployment.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Holland's Imtech Traffic & Infra Discusses Huawei's ICT Solution and Services

10|16|14   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Dimitry Theebe is from the business unit at Imtech Traffic & Infra which delivers communications solutions for transportations. His partnershp with Huawei began about a years ago. In this video, Theebe speaks more about this partnership and what he hopes to accomplish with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Comprehensive Storage Solutions Vital for SVR

10|16|14   |   6:16   |   (0) comments


SVR Information Technology provides cloud services for academic and special sectors. With Huawei's support, SVR and Yildiz Technical University has established Turkey's largest and most advanced High Performance Computing system. CSO Ismail Cem Aslan talks about what he hopes Huawei's OceanStor storage system will bring for him.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Mexico's Servitron's Impression of Huawei at CCW 2014

10|16|14   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Servitron is a network operator in Mexico that has been in the trunking industry for the past 20 years. Its COO, Ing. Ragnar Trillo O., explains at Critical Communications World 2014 that his company has been interested in the long-term evolution of LTE technology and its adoption for TETRA.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Better Dubai

10|16|14   |   2:06   |   (0) comments


Abdulla Ahmed Al Falasi is the director of commercial affairs, a telecommunications coordinator for the government of Dubai. Their areas of service span across multiple industries, including police, safety, shopping malls and more. In this video, Abdulla talks about his department's work with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Lights Up Malaysia Partner Maju Nusa

10|16|14   |   1:59   |   (0) comments


Malaysia's Maju Nusa is an enterprise partner to Huawei in networking, route switches and telco equipment. At this year's Critical Communications World in Singapore, CTO Pushpender Singh talks about what Huawei's eLTE solutions mean to his company and for Malaysia.
LRTV Custom TV
Evolving From HFC to FTTH Networks

10|15|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Todd McCrum delves into the future of cable's HFC plant, examining how DOCSIS 3.1 and advanced video compression will extend its life and how the IP video transition will usher in GPON and EPON over FTTH.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Google: Carriers & Cloud Providers Need to Cooperate
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/16/2014
Could Data Be the New 'Currency'?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/16/2014
iPad Air 2 Lets Users Switch Carriers Any Time
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/17/2014
Analysts Warn of Major NFV Gaps
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/22/2014
CBS Takes OTT Plunge
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed