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 or over the phone (1-855-8-INTERNET or 1-855-846-8376).


  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:

    • 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:

    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.

    • Not a Scam! I applied and have Internet Essentials and I love t!

  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

    • My family an i qualified over the phone on a friday an our equipment is scheduled to arrive mon. I havent had comcast and DONT OWE them anything from within the last 12 months. Can’t wait to get my essential hookup. Good luck guys!

  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.

  11. Judy Timblin says:

    I earn a little over $20K which is my Social Security $12,888.and a part time job that I only get $7,650.
    I am a veteran and get my health plan and meds through the VA because I am a low income case. I have no children at home. I use the internet to do my church powerpoints and apply for jobs,FB with my family in Georgia and emails. I have AT&T now and it is too expensive so I want to drop them and get a better price.
    I have never had Comcast and I live in an area where Comcast is available. What would my total price be with Internet Essentials?

    • notmyproblem says:

      AT&T now offers the ACCESS program, which is essentially the same type of program as Comcast Internet Essentials, with some differences. it is $5 or $10 depending on the speed (only 3-10 mbps) they provide you with. check it out. the DSL service they provide is U-verse, which is not as reliable as their regular DSL service (internet connection can go out frequently for a few minutes at a time) but i’m not sure what comcast’s reliability is in comparison.

      you will want to:

      1. check availability of each program in your area

      2. compare the amount of data they provide you each month

      3. compare the speed of the connection offeredby each (btw, their estimate of the speed will often magically decrease once you have finished the application process)

      4. compare the amount of time each program will be offered for.

      5. note that both the speed and reliability may be drastically different (more headaches) from what you can expect from full-priced service, and the low-cost price is not forever.

      6. AT&T requires credit check, i believe, using Experian. If Experian does not have a record of you, you will have to deal with them first. Comcast claims there is no credit check

      6. comcast also offers low-income deals on a new laptop or computer for very cheap. i have no idea how good these computers are but for $150 it might be worth it.

      7. note that it has been well documented and acknowledged that AT&T has colluded with the government in special secret programs with special bio-ID-protected rooms of hardware in their central offices to ILLEGALLY spy on its customers’ data. this is not conspiracy, AT&T has admitted it and it has been written up in newspapers, etc. there is no way of knowing if comcast or any other carrier are doing similar things until there is another whistleblower, but for now, AT&T has been confirmed. if you don’t care because you’re not doing anything shady, there is also something o be said for “voting with your dollars” to support companies that have not been confirmed to do such things. that said, it may not have exactly the same effect when doing a low-income program, LOL.

      do your research to figure out which service is best. thank you for serving our country and good luck.

  12. Angela Bankston says:

    H have Comcast send you an application in the mmail if you are low income or on hud. Upload a a copy of your lease with the application sand email it back to them. Don’t try to apply oover the phone

  13. Jiaymeta Moore says:

    I signed up for internet essentials on thursday 1/5/17 and they were supposed to come install on 1/9/17 the didn’t call or come to the home but tech said they did. So they rescheduled to 1/13/17 at 8-10am again no call or tech show up called again they rescheduled to 1-3pm the same day. Again no call no show. The tech said they couldn’t get ahold of me so it was my word against theres spoke to 10 agents and 5 supervisors and got a call back and back i was basically told that because i pay $10 i was not valued as a customer especially because i was not yet a customer for me to work as a customer rep for another cable company i feel that was rude im still paying with my money no matter how much it is and one of the supervisors refused to give me her badge number because she did not want me to get her fired… Sad customer service

  14. brian grant says:

    I just got off the phone with comcast the said that there is not a credit check a lie I was told that I qualify but I have to pay a bill that I owe comcast I had tried to set up a payment plan way last year but they wanted all the bill forget comcast they are a rip off I also told them that I was on a limited income. I will never use comcast again

  15. Lies, lies, lies. Wasted time. Its always something with the foreigners that know nothing and tell you over and over again “well my screen says to tell you this” after you meet all qualifications. Must mean they do run a credit check with that SS# they ask for.

  16. SimplyAnnoyed says:

    I’ve had the same internet service (not Comcast) for over 10 years. I forget the specs as far as data use and speeds. But the monthly charges were increased to a point that I can’t afford on my SSD. I am disabled senior and I receive SNAP and Rental Assistance. I checked and the Senior Program isn’t available in NJ. Is there a big difference in the Essentials program VS Senior.

    With my current plan I receive my router free. A agent on the Comcast forum told me if I get approved for the Essentials Program I would have to rent a router for $10 a month in addition to the monthly $9.95 fee. Then I found a article that states you get a free wifi router with this program. I do have Comcast for their basic cable program. This was the second thing she stated that was incorrect as she told me I didn’t qualify because I had cable internet *which I’ve never had* and because I didn’t have a child on the Lunch program. I research that and called her out on it.

    So this is very confusing. My main concern about changing from the plan I have and the Essentials program is that the speeds are going to be super slow and that I would go over the data usage that is included in the program. I do spend a great deal of time on the computer but don’t watch TV or watch DVD’s and rarely download anything. I would also be the only person using the computer.

    Any advice on this would be appreciated.

    • I have Essentials because my children have the free lunch program so I don’t know what a senior would need as far as qualifying. I also do not pay for the router, I pay the flat $9.95 a month with a router they provided me. As far as the speed, I stream everything all day. Netflix, hulu, youtube. From multiple devices in my household all running at the same time, we don’t have regular tv just internet apps and wifi for our phones and tablets so we use as much data as someone paying for their premium package yet no slow connections. Only 2 times in 6 months did I need a signal reset where the connection had gone out for whatever reason and it was back up within an hour. Now this is just my personal experiance in Camden County NJ as far as speeds, usuage and not capping my speed causing slower streaming.

  17. will my son still be able to watch netflix for an hour or so a day with this internet service?

    • I stream everything all day. Netflix, hulu, youtube. From multiple devices in my household all running at the same time, we don’t have regular cable tv just internet apps on our smart tv and wifi for our phones and tablets so we use as much data as someone paying for their premium package yet no slow connections. Only 2 times in 6 months did I need a signal reset where the connection had gone out for whatever reason and it was back up within an hour. Now this is just my personal experiance in Camden County NJ as far as speeds, usuage and not capping my speed causing slower streaming.

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