Light Reading
With its eye on federal regulators, Comcast expands and extends its Internet Essentials program for low-income families while touting the benefits of its proposed buyout of TWC.

Comcast Plugs TWC Deal With Internet Program

Mari Silbey
3/4/2014
50%
50%

With one eye on Washington regulators overseeing its pending buyout of Time Warner Cable, Comcast announced Tuesday that it will both expand the size and extend the duration of Internet Essentials, its low-cost broadband adoption program for low-income families in the US.

Launched in June 2011, Internet Essentials was initially scheduled to last for three years as a voluntary condition of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s acquisition of NBC Universal . Now that the company is seeking to take over Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) in a proposed $45.2 billion deal, the company plans to extend the program indefinitely. In addition, with the planned addition of TWC's customer footprint, Comcast aims to offer the program in even more of the nation's largest markets.

"With the recent announcement of our merger with Time Warner Cable, we see a tremendous and an exciting opportunity to bring the benefits of Internet Essentials to millions of additional families," said Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen in announcing the news on a press conference call. "And I'm thrilled that after the Time Warner Cable transaction closes, Internet Essentials will be available in 19 of our nation's 20 largest cities."

Spreading the wealth further, Cohen also announced that Comcast will award more than $1 million in grants through its Gold Medal Recognition program to help select communities build Internet Essentials Learning Zones. (Details were light on what those learning zones would feature.) Fifteen communities won these grants for demonstrating superior efforts to bridge the digital divide, including Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, and San Francisco. Five additional communities were recognized for being "most improved" in their efforts to spread broadband adoption.

All 20 communities have been given an offer for the next two weeks that allows families in their regions who are eligible for Internet Essentials to sign up for the program and receive six months of free Internet service. That offer ends on March 18.

Besides the news on Internet Essentials, Cohen took the opportunity to highlight the milestones that the program has so far achieved. According to Comcast, Internet Essentials has now connected more than 1.2 million individuals, or about 300,000 families. That's a significant step up from the 150,000 families that were covered a year ago. (See Comcast Internet Essentials Connects 600K Americans.)

Since 2011, Comcast has also used the program to sell 23,000 subsidized computers for less than $150 each; partner with more than 8,000 community organizations, government agencies, and elected officials; and offer Internet Essentials to more than 30,000 schools in 39 states and Washington DC. Cohen said Comcast has spent more than $165 million "in cash and in-kind" donations on digital literacy outreach and education.

As a special guest at the press conference, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was on hand to accept recognition for his city being one of Comcast's "most improved" communities and to congratulate Comcast on the success of its program. He not only praised Internet Essentials, but also voiced his backing for Comcast's plan to acquire Time Warner Cable, calling himself "a strong supporter of the Comcast/Time Warner merger."

Coinciding with the extension of the Internet Essentials program, Comcast also announced the release of a new report called The Essentials of Connectivity. Dr. John B. Horrigan, who led the study and was formerly head of research for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's National Broadband Plan, said the study found that community expectations and social networks play a big role in broadband adoption.

Specifically, 83% of the Internet Essentials participants surveyed said their children's schools expect them to have broadband access at home. Half or more of those surveyed also said that banks, health insurance companies, and government agencies have the same expectation.

Currently, only families with children in the federal school lunch program can sign up for Internet Essentials, but Comcast isn't against the idea of expanding eligibility in the future. Cohen said that Comcast has already done a pilot program with AARP, and that it continues to study the results.

For now, though, participants in Internet Essentials must have at least one child eligible for free or reduced school lunch, not have subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days, and not owe Comcast any money or equipment. Households that meet those requirements and sign up for the program are offered elementary broadband service for $9.95 per month plus tax.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(10)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
GeoTel
50%
50%
GeoTel,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/14/2014 | 10:25:55 AM
Positive TWC
Good for TWC and offering Internet Essentials, a low-cost broadband adoption program for low-income families. Income causes a huge disparity when it comes to Internet service. There is a point where speed isn't the priority; it is simply being able to connect. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/6/2014 | 12:07:02 AM
Re: Comcast Essentials Slow Speed Network
What's needed is low-cost high-speed Internet access for everyone, not just a fraction who meet a financial criterion. The US needs to catch up with the rest of the world on that.
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
3/5/2014 | 9:37:53 PM
Re: Enough?
What kinds of conditions would you impose on the Comcast-TWC deal that would make a real difference? What would you like to see the feds do?
gconnery
50%
50%
gconnery,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/5/2014 | 7:15:05 PM
Re: Enough?
Yeah, I'd direct anybody who thinks this is great to a Google search of Comcast Internet Essentials.  You'll find most of your results are people in forums complaining that the people they talk to don't know the program exists, they faxed the required information a month ago and are still getting the runaround etc.  I suspect that while this program theoretically exists and you *can* get it, you have to be very very persistent to get anybody at Comcast to admit that it exists and get you signed up for it.
KBode
100%
0%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/5/2014 | 2:32:57 PM
Re: Enough?
I do think it will probably be approved. NBC was a bigger deal with all the same if not greater leverage concerns, and that was allowed to go through.

Comcast is FANTASTIC (like AT&T was with BellSouth merger) at suggesting merger conditions that look great and significant, but usually ask them to do things they were already doing (reach a certain penetration mark they already passed or will do so), or won't really impact their bottom line because most people won't qualify or can't find the offer.

It's all kind of theater, and a deal has to be simply awful for direct competition to be blocked (AT&T T-Mobile). 
kq4ym
100%
0%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/5/2014 | 11:06:54 AM
Comcast Essentials Slow Speed Network
Of course Comcast has to play any card it can to win approve for the merger deal. The Internet Essentials program is useful to those who qualify, but very limited in reality. With only 300,000 homes paying the 10 bucks (plus another 15% or so in added taxes and fees) for a reallly slow internet service (about 1.5 mbps down and .6 up) it is really just a give away to appease regulators.

I've been testing a similar bare bones Internet Basics service through my southwest Florida Century Link provider and surprising find the "slow" speeds available actually do work very well even for watching YouTube video. The slow upload is the weak feature, disallowing an HD broadcast on Google Plus or other streaming broadcast sites. But what's needed is an expansion of these low cost basics program to millions not just hundreds of thousands.
msilbey
100%
0%
msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
3/5/2014 | 9:32:39 AM
Re: Enough?
To hear David Cohen talk, the merger is already a done deal. Seriously, I don't know when I've heard anyone talk more brazenly about something that theoretically isn't a sure thing yet. Comcast clearly doesn't believe it needs to make a show of deference to the FCC.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/4/2014 | 11:30:29 PM
Cynical of me?
Is it cynical of me to suggest that Comcast is making this move to make itself more attractive to the FCC? I wonder how long the program will survive merger approval?
MikeP688
50%
50%
MikeP688,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/4/2014 | 9:03:41 PM
Re: Enough?
The regulators may ask some reasonable questions--but if I was a betting man, I would bet that the merger will go through.   The statistics reported on are quite impressive--but is it enough?

 

 
KBode
100%
0%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/4/2014 | 6:23:34 PM
Enough?
I wonder if this, combined with the rumored plan to spin off 3 million of the acquired users, will be enough for the FCC? I have the aching suspicion that it will be, and any concerns about vertical integration or leverage over the Internet video market will be dismissed as "theoretical" by Comcast and the FCC alike.
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 Interviews
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration

11|21|14   |   04:29   |   (7) comments


At the Alcatel-Lucent Technology Symposium, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how SDN has reshaped the discussion around packet and optical integration.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Highlights at BBWF 2014

11|20|14   |   3:40   |   (1) comment


Broadband World Forum is one of the world's largest telecoms, media and technology events with over 7,800 senior executives from across the globe converging on Amsterdam every year to identify the Next Big Thing. BBWF is an exciting place to meet the entire industry under one roof and identify the latest in network innovation, service optimization and customer ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Will BCMS Stimulate Margin for Broadband Operators?

11|19|14   |   6:52   |   (0) comments


In BBWF 2014, Liu Shuqing emphasizes the value of FMC 2.0 based full service experience by throwing light on the BCMS solution. The underlying principle of this innovative technique is to create network robustness and driving network from connection oriented to ACE – BAND oriented infrastructure, in which applications, cloud, and user experiences will be an asset ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
SingleFAN3.0: Better Connected Experience

11|19|14   |   3:06   |   (1) comment


At the BBWF 2014, David Hu, the VP of Huawei Access Network Product Line, talked about the future of access networks – SingleFAN3.0: faster broadband, wider coverage, and smarter connection.
LRTV Interviews
Basil Alwan Interview: The Road to Cloud

11|19|14   |   09:09   |   (0) comments


Alcatel-Lucent's head of IP and Transport talks about the migration towards a web-like networking environment, the impact of the cloud, SDN and NFV, and the yet-to-be-announced FP4 chip.
LRTV Documentaries
FairPoint Makes a Fair Point About Analytics

11|19|14   |   1:56   |   (1) comment


The US-based communication service provider gets to grips with advanced analytics, tackling data and breaking down the silos within its own business.
LRTV Documentaries
Analytics Lets C Spire Get to Know Subs

11|19|14   |   3:01   |   (2) comments


It's all about the data for US operator C Spire as it uses analytics to personalize its customer service down to individual subscribers.
LRTV Interviews
Nuage Branches Out With SDN: CEO Interview

11|17|14   |   9:32   |   (0) comments


Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's SDN-focused unit Nuage Networks, talks about the opportunities and challenges of breaking out of the data center into wide-area networks.
Light Reedy
Telecom Analytics Grows Up

11|14|14   |   1:15   |   (4) comments


The big data analytics debate has moved on from a year ago, with some experts suggesting it's no longer a technology challenge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Compass

11|14|14   |   3:17   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Shuo Yang, Huawei Principal Cloud Infrastructure Architect introduced Huawei Compass, the software tool for solving customers' problems on the journey of OpenStack Cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Cloud Strategy in European Region

11|14|14   |   2:56   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dr. Gotz, CTO of Huawei IT in European Region introduced Huawei's cloud strategy in European region.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Contribution on OpenStack

11|14|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dennis Gu, Huawei Chief Architect of Cloud Computing introduced the relationship between OpenStack and cloud computing, and Huawei's contribution on OpenStack.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 12, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
Last Chapter (11) for Aereo
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 11/21/2014
Google, AT&T, BT Unite on Network Data Models
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 11/20/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed