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. 
FakeMitchWagner
50%
50%
FakeMitchWagner,
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.
FakeMitchWagner
50%
50%
FakeMitchWagner,
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
Wagner’s Ring
Data Centers Drive Telcos Into the Future

8|28|14   |   2:20   |   (2) comments


Data centers are at the heart of key trends driving telecom -- network virtualization, the drive for increased agility, and the need to compete with OTT providers.
LRTV Custom TV
Why SPs Should Consider Cisco's EPN

8|27|14   |   5:40   |   (0) comments


Sultan Dawood from Cisco discusses Cisco's EPN, which enables SPs to build agile and programmable networks delivering new network virtualized services using Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Showcase @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   2.56   |   (0) comments


SoftCOM is Huawei's framework for telecom business and network transformation. Haofei Liu, Solution Marketing Manager, Carrier Business Group, Huawei, showcases Huawei's SoftCOM architecture in this video.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of Integrated Solutions on SoftCOM & NFV Monetization

8|26|14   |   4.43   |   (0) comments


Libin Dai, Director of Integrated Solutions, Carrier Business Group, discusses Huawei's SoftCOM and NFV monetization. Huawei believes that NFV monetization should be service-driven rather than network-driven, and that operators should have network transformation, service transformation and a compatible and collaborative ecosystem in place in order to deploy NFV.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of US NFV Lab on CloudEdge & the Future of NFV

8|26|14   |   4.06   |   (0) comments


Sean Chen, Director of US NFV Lab at Huawei, discusses Huawei's new approach to NFV in open collaboration. Huawei believes that through Proof of Concept tests, it could help operators learn and communicate with the industry more effectively. Sean believes that successful implementation of NFV should have its values reaching to end users and discusses how Huawei's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Highlights @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   3.34   |   (0) comments


At the Big Telecom Event in Chicago Huawei showcases its high-level strategy, the SoftCOM architecture, which helps operators reduce the cost of ownership of their network infrastructure and generate additional revenue in the ICT service environment. Huawei showcases over 30 pilot programs from across the globe, focusing on the industry-leading commercial ...
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX – Live from the Show

8|21|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


An overview of VeEX Test and Measurement solutions including TX300S multi-service test set with VeExpress cloud-based management system, UX400 universal modular platform supporting 100G testing, and the redesigned RXT modular platform.
LRTV Custom TV
Transitioning CE 2.0 Networks Into the SDN & NFV Era With Telco Systems

8|19|14   |   5:19   |   (0) comments


Telco Systems' Ariel Efrati (CEO) and Moshe Shimon (VP of Product Management) discuss virtualization and how the company's new Open Metro Edge solution utilizes the SDN and NFV concepts to accelerate and orchestrate service delivery through its innovative product portfolio and software applications.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Myths: Is NFV Still Several Years Away?

8|11|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


Some say that NFV (network functions virtualization) is still several years away from being implemented on mobile operator networks. This isn't the case. Operators can get started on their paths to NFV now, as this short video from Skyfire shows.
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
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.
Hot Topics
Rogers, Shaw Take Aim at Netflix
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 8/26/2014
Utilities to Pump $11.2B Into Smart Grid – Study
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 8/26/2014
Verizon Launches QR Code Security Solution
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/26/2014
Fiber Revival at Deutsche Telekom
Iain Morris, 8/25/2014
M2M's In Fashion: Wearables Play the US Open
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/25/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed