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
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
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
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Glimpsing the Self-Driving Car
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/12/2014
AT&T: We'll Bundle Fixed Wireless & DirecTV
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/15/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed