(CBS) - Some families are struggling to pay their usual $30-per-month charge to get access to the internet. Add that number to what they pay to get basic cable, and you have yourself a monthly three-digit price tag to stay current and entertained.
In an effort to comply with the agreement to help poor families connect to the Internet in exchange for approval of the acquisition of NBC Universal, Comcast is now offering low-income families access to the web for only $9.95 a month.
The company kicked off the program at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C. reports CNET.
David Cohen, an executive vice president at the company, said that Comcast's Internet Essentials program is an attempt to address barriers, such as affordability, digital literacy and relevance in the nearly one-third of the U.S. population who don't have Internet access at home.
"What has become apparent to us as a company is that there is a cruel irony when it comes to broadband," Cohen said in an interview. "We have this wonderful technology which has the potential to be a great equalizer, providing access to education, health care, and jobs information across multiple income populations. But because of the adoption gap, or the digital divide, access to the Internet is actually exacerbating the problem instead of solving it."
The low-cost connection will feature a paltry 1.5 Mbps download speed, and up to 384 kbps upload, Comcast said, and the option will be available in the 39 states the cable provider currently serves," according to PC World. "Comcast won't charge for the activation costs or equipment rental fees either, and the company guaranteed no price increases on the monthly fee."
In order to qualify, households have to meet various criteria to take advantage of Comcast's Internet Essentials:
- A family of four making $29,055 a year would qualify for the deal, estimates The Miami Herald.
- One of your kids has to be enrolled in the National School Lunch Program.
- Your household has to be located in one of the 39 states where Comcast service is available.
- You can't have had Comcast's Internet service 90 days prior to joining the program.
- You can't be overdue on any of your Comcast bills.
- You can't have any unreturned Comcast equipment on your record.
Families who don't have a computer or would like to upgrade their current one can also sign up to get a voucher to buy one for less than $150. The program aims to keep each qualified family enrolled for three years.
If you are interested and eligible, call 1-855-8-INTERNET to start the sign-up process.