August 7, 2014
Comcast Helps Poor Families, With Six Months Free Internet And Amnesty For Unpaid Bills
John Hopton for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Comcast has announced it will continue to help poor families in the US to be connected to the Internet regardless of their means, as it adds an offer of six months free service to its Internet Essentials broadband service program, and an amnesty to customers who currently have outstanding bills with Comcast and were therefore previously ineligible for offers.
The offer of six months of free service is available to any family eligible for Internet Essentials that applies between August 4th and September 20th, coinciding with the back to school season. Internet Essentials is a service which has supplied broadband service to low income families since 2011. The major criterion for being able to take up the offer is having one child that qualifies for the free school lunch program.
In a further step, Comcast will allow people who have a past due debt to sign up for Internet Essentials, if their debt is more than a year old and they meet other eligibility requirements. Previously, such a debt would have precluded them from taking part in the helping hand scheme.
Internet Essentials, which was mandated by the government when Comcast acquired NBC Universal three years ago, provides broadband service for $9.95 a month along with the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for less than $150, and access to digital literacy training. Comcast has now decided to extend the program beyond the required three year limit and add the further measures.
According to a recent statement, Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen told students, teachers and parents at Peyton Forrest Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia that “Internet Essentials is about transforming lives and inspiring a new generation of leaders to be digitally ready to access the information and tools all students need to succeed in the 21st century. By offering six months of free Internet Essentials service, along with an amnesty program, we hope to convince even more families that there is no better school supply than having broadband Internet at home. With it, kids can do their homework and parents can be more connected to their children’s teachers and schools.”
Ars Technica reports Comcast had previously taken criticism that Internet Essentials was too difficult to sign up for, and, in a separate bout of bad, viral publicity, a customer service representative was recorded trying far too hard to retain a customer who was begging to cancel his contract. However, this week's announcement may help to repair the damage and help more Americans sign up for Internet Essentials which has, as PC Mag points out, already been utilized by 350,000 families, or about 1.4 million low-income Americans.
Comcast further details even more of the positive impact of Internet Essentials since 2011, including the sale of almost 30,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each, the distribution of nearly 37 million Internet Essentials brochures at no cost, and the broadcasting of more than 4 million public service announcements with a value of almost $51 million. The scheme has also attracted over two million visitors to the Internet Essentials websites in English and Spanish and the Online Learning Center, and offered Internet Essentials in more than 30,000 schools and 4,000 school districts, in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
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