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Group Says Comcast Corp. Is Hiding Its Low-Cost Offering From Low-Income Families

By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A community group says Comcast Corporation needs to do more to bridge the digital divide for low-income families.

About a dozen people — along with the activist organization Action United — dropped off complaints this morning with federal officials in center city Philadelphia.

Comcast’s “Internet Essentials” is restricted to certain low-income families, but cuts the cost of getting online to $9.95/month.

“I feel as though the Internet service will help my son to progress in math, reading, spelling,” says Dawn from North Philadelphia.  But she says she couldn’t sign up:

“They told me I had a back bill from 10 years ago, so I was not qualified.”

Another barrier, says Marvin from West Philadelphia, is the apparent lack of publicity about the special offer for low-income families.

“None of the schools in my community know nothing about it,” he said today.  “That’s a major problem.”

The program, created as a condition of Comcast’s merger with NBC-Universal, is aimed at families of kids who qualify for free and reduced-cost school lunches.

Charlie Douglas, senior director at Comcast, says the company is trying hard to reach that group.

“We publicized the program in 4,000 school districts, 30,000 schools,” he told KYW Newsradio today.

Douglas says the company is “proud” of Internet Essentials, and says praise for Comcast’s efforts has come from Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter and from the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

You can find out if you are qualified and sign up by calling toll-free, 1-855-8-INTERNET or going to

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More from Ian Bush
  • jon

    There wouldnt be a digital divide,if poor people didnt have children,white ones too.

    As a child of poverty,I am proud to have never brought a hungry mouth into this world.

  • Hoo Hoo

  • Dee Mack

    How to qualify

    To qualify for $9.95 a month Internet service and a low-cost computer, your household must meet all these criteria:

    Be located where Comcast offers Internet service
    Have at least one child receiving free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program
    Have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days
    Not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment

  • SoPhi

    Wow-it always amazes me how people have so much animosity towards poor people who are struggling to get by and not towards MASSIVE corporations like Comcast, who pays zero taxes to the state and very little, including no property taxes, to the city.

    • Tyck ed Off

      Why should I pay for their free sail phones as well as their internet?

      Corporations = evil?

      G he tto dwellers = noble?

      Du mb lib t ard mentality.

  • joe

    or Netzero is offering 10 bucks on their dial up. duh!!!

  • Joe

    30 bucks with 3mb download via Verizon. duh!!!

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    • TV Savy

      I still don’t and I get 30 digital channels.

  • Dee Mack

    I know about this program but why would i pay Comcast $9.95 a month for local programming when i can buy an antenna,the people that qualified for the $9.95 are getting it

    • Dee Mack

      ,the people that qualified for the $9.95 internet are getting it,if you know how to talk Dawn you can get Verizon for $19.95 a month ,that’s less then a dollar a day

  • Dee Mack

    “I feel as though the Internet service will help my son to progress in math, reading, spelling,” says Dawn from North Philadelphia. But she says she couldn’t sign up:,hey dawn if you have a back bill ,then pay it, then you can sign up,Oh and I’m black and i pay $60 to Verizon for phone and internet and $125 for directv,and i ain’t rich,but it’s a good program for those who need it,dawn looks like comcast ain’t gonna let you abuse them FYI be quiet next time you make us look bad

  • Norka

    Comcast isn’t doing this out of the goodness of their heart-in order to make the millions they made by buying NBC Universal, they made an agreement with the governement to make a real dent in closing the digital divide. So far, its all PR and glossy brochures, but no on has the program!

  • LIFE

    As much money Comcast making, they can give a little back to the kids. Dont punish the kids because their parents want to buy rims. Help them out for the lack of parenting!

  • bob

    I love how low income (yeah, the ones that have a Cadillac and 25 inch rims on it parked on the street) families get internet for 10 bucks yet I, that worked to get where I am, have to pay $100 for it. Thats just awesome.

    • Dee Mack

      if you pay $100 a month for internet your a fool

      • SoPhi

        agreed-learn how to negotiate.

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