With all the talk of the great wealth divide in this country and the Occupy Movement, a new development by the some of the nation’s largest Internet providers may have gone unnoticed. One of those programs, now offered by Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, is something called Internet Essentials. It’s a program where those that are too poor to afford Internet access, can get it for just $9.95 per month.
The idea, at least according to Comcast, is to ensure that every child in the country has equal access to the Internet, thus making sure they don’t fall behind other more privileged kids, due to lack of access.
The program works like this: Every family that has a child in school that qualifies for meal assistance automatically qualifies for the service. And not only that, Comcast will sell that family an Internet ready computer for just $150 to use for Internet access. Comcast will also provide, free of charge, training to use the computer on the Internet.
The only restrictions on the program is that those that wish to sign up must live within an area that Comcast covers, have at least one child enrolled in the National Lunch Program (sponsored by the Federal Government) and who has not subscribed to a Comcast Internet service within the prior ninety days; and also doesn’t have an overdue account with Comcast for any service offered, or possess unreturned equipment.
For those that want the service, Comcast will mail them an application. All they have to do is call the toll free number: 1-855-846-8376 and ask for the application, fill it out when it comes in the mail, supply proof of their child being enrolled in the National Lunch Program and send it back to Comcast.
The National Lunch Program is available to all children enrolled in public and nonprofit private schools who live with a family that has an income that falls within the programs Income Eligibility Guidelines; which generally means, families living under the poverty line.
The Internet Essentials Program came about as a result of an initiative between cable providers, the FCC and the Washington D.C. public school system which instigated the program after learning that a lack of access to the Internet was increasingly causing a barrier to success for at risk children. They found that not having Internet access prevented children from participating in many high school and college programs that left them far behind their more privileged peers.