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 internetessentials.com.