Comcast Internet Essentials Review: Affordable Internet Access For Low-Income Households

comcastieComcast offers an affordable internet access program called Internet Essentials that provides high-speed internet service for $9.95 a month + taxes, a subsidized $150 computer with Microsoft Office, and free digital literacy training to eligible groups. Over time, they have expanded their eligibility rules and also added new features. Specifically, you now get:

  • XFINITY Cable Internet Service
  • 10 Mbps download & 2 Mbps upload speeds
  • No credit check
  • No activation or installation fee
  • No contract
  • Free modem + WiFi router rental

Here are the current ways to qualify for this program.

Low-income Families. You are eligible if you have at least one child who qualifies for the National School Lunch Program. If I read the income guidelines for the NSLP correctly, a family of 4 within the contiguous 48 states can’t make more than $31,590 a year to get free lunches during the 2016-2017 school year.

HUD Housing Assistance Households. You are eligible if you receive HUD housing assistance such as Public Housing, Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8 Vouchers) or Multifamily Vouchers (Project-Based Section 8).

Seniors Pilot Program. You must be 62 years old and live in one of the current eligible areas. You must also be enrolled in an eligible state or federal public assistance program. As of mid-2016, the list includes Boston, Palm Beach County, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Community College Student Pilot Program. You must be enrolled in an eligible community college, and also be a Pell Grant recipient. As of mid-2016, the list includes select community colleges in Colorado and Illinois.

In addition, for all groups, you must not have any outstanding debt to Comcast that is less than a year old. Families with outstanding debt more than one year old may still be eligible. You must also live in an area where Comcast Internet Service is available but have not subscribed to it within the last 90 days.

Problems and controversy. If you are already a low-income family that stretches to pay for Comcast internet access, you would need to cancel your existing service and then wait for a full 90 days before signing up for Internet Essentials. If the idea is to give your children the educational benefit of internet access, then it may be difficult to go without internet for 90 days.

This program is not supported with government taxes. Instead, it is a way for Comcast to make happy with various government regulators when they want to merge with another huge company. Indeed, Comcast as a monopoly or part of a duopoly in most areas may be the reason why average people are being charged $40 or $60 a month for basic internet access in the first place.

In any case, it exists, millions more households are eligible that aren’t signed up, and I think it is worth spreading the word. Apply online at internetessentials.com or over the phone (1-855-8-INTERNET or 1-855-846-8376).

Comments

  1. Linda Buchanan says:

    The way I read it, you must be 62 AND low income and live in one of the areas. Just being over 62 and living in one of the areas does not qualify.

  2. The state of “high speed” internet access in the US is abysmal. We’re ranked 16th in the world yet we invented silicon valley. I can’t wait for Google Fiber to become more widespread and crush the telecom monopolies.

    Interesting article about Google Fiber: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/07/19/google-fiber-wants-to-be-your-broadband-company/86725276/

    • I would love to get me some Google Fiber.

      • I think everyone that knows about it would love to get it.
        I moved to the country recently and didn’t research beforehand (who does?) but we can only get a single broadband provider that isn’t wireless (cellular). AT&T Uverse at 3 mbps with data cap of 300 GB/month. SO PAINFUL. Everyone is used to being able to stream video whenever they want and now we have to coordinate. Now I fully understand the digital divide.

  3. Paul Martin says:

    https://consumerist.com/2016/02/01/the-consumerist-guide-to-understanding-your-comcast-bill/

    Consumerist website provides a detailed explanation of all the charges of a Comcast bill in their article “The Consumerist Guide To Understanding Your Comcast Bill”, including the surcharges to cover the above-mentioned program that is paid for by the subscribers as well as other fees that Comcast bills as Broadcast TV Fee and Regional Sports Fee that actually pads their profits.

  4. Its a scam many single parents with approved requirements have been tuned down once they applied customer service requested our phone numbers and were told that we were qualified for upgrades only.
    Now our mission is to stop Comcast from spreading that lie to the schools by distributing this form. A group of 30 of us women sre Woking on this.

    • Christy Dobies says:

      I applied and was approved…if they said only available for upgrades I’m assuming you already have internet thru them…it states if currently getting internet you have to cancel and wait 90 days…if you have outstanding debt to them in past year your not eligible…i did everything online didn’t have to call anyone or go into anywhere

    • Not a scam for sure. All I had to do to qualify was get a letter from my kids school saying we qualify for free lunches. That was it. Have had internet essentials for about 2 years now, great for low income families. I tell everyone about it.

  5. Danny Lee Charles says:

    AT&T has a $10 in $5 low-income internet program. Check it out.

  6. mark Goehring says:

    Yes, i suspect it’s also a scam by comcast to simply APPEAR like they are doing something positive for the government regulators. I also applied through the school lunch program and was qualified in all ways. Comcast first said I had to go to my local comcast office and get my house added to a list. SO I wasted my time doing that. I had to call and visit many times. Then after doing all that and being “approved” I had to call even more to then have then tell me they “don’t offer essential internet in my area” dispite my neighbors all having regular comcast. It’s bad enough they are scamming regulators and regular people… but why make me waste all my time jumping through their hoops only to then say it’s not available in my area. Very Sleasy!

  7. How are you guys getting this I don’t know how many letters i got that say my kids get free lunch i been to the school and to the school board I’m lost as to what else I have to do almost 2 months and still approved

  8. Internet essentials from comcast is a scam. I applied for services and for the past two weeks, after sending the required twice, once via fax and once via email..I was told that they didnt have the information. They were not helpful nor made any attempts to accomodate or give any solutions. Beware, they say no credit check but ask for you social security number..then fail to provide services.

  9. I applied 3 days ago, was approved and equipment shipped next day. Hooked it up and it’s running great. Not a scam just not a priority for comcast and they don’t train the employees to know anything about it so they’re not helpful at all if you run into issues

  10. I applied on Sept 17th. The online application took about 5 minutes and I was instantly approved. I was giving the choice to have the equipment shipped to my home and install myself, with easy instructions, or have a tech come out. I chose to install myself, they give you a tech support number to walk you through the installation if you need help. They said it would take about 10 days for the equipment to be shipped but I received a email Sept 19th, just two days later, that it had been shipped out and even gave me a tracking number. My equipment was there the next day on the 20th. Everything was very simple for me to install and I was up and running in less than 30 minutes. Of course this isn’t the fastest internet service but for $9.95/month I can’t complain. I have a 5th, 6th and 7th grader and we haven’t had cable or internet in years, still don’t have cable but it’s still not a priority for our home. This program is going to help so much with the kid’s school work. It was getting hard trying to do everything from my phone’s mobile hotspot, and that ran out quickly anyways. And the library gets hard with 1hr computer time limits with 3 kids. I’m very happy with the service and hate that others are having a hard time with it and some think it’s a scam. Very satisfied with my experience.

    • Exactly, definitely not a scam and people need to know more about it if anything. Too many people have no idea this is out there and can benefit from it. It’s a shame it’s brought to us by comcast which doesn’t care about this program at all so issues like those above exist.

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