Comcast launches $10 broadband program for low-income families

FLINT TWP. — Comcast has launched a new program for the 2011-12 school year that offers budget internet service and affordable netbook computers to many eligible Carman-Ainsworth families.

Dave Swierpel, director of professional learning & community services, shared details of the program with the school board at last week’s meeting and said he would be working on a variety of ways to spread the word to CA students and their parents.

The program is called Comcast Internet Essentials and is being offered to students who qualify for free lunch, which is more than 50 percent of CA students, Swierpel said.

The program provides broadband Internet service for $9.95 per month plus tax and also a sign-on option of purchasing a netbook computer for about $150 with software and a free security filter, Swierpel said.

“It is a great opportunity,’’ he said. “Our responsibility is to promote this program to our families.”

He explained that families must enroll directly with Comcast and the district is not involved in the sign-up process. Swierpel said the offer is being made to districts nationwide and enrollment is open throughout the school year.

Board president Patrice Hatcher asked Swierpel if he could get feedback on how many CA families sign up. He said he would check with his contact person and get back to the board with a response.

Details about the program including how to enroll can be found online at or by calling 1-855-8- INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) to confirm eligibility and request an application. Some restrictions apply.

Comcast launched the program last week at a school district in Washington D.C. It is designed to bridge the technology gap between haves and have-nots. Comcast cited statistics from the Pew Research Center which found that only 45 percent of families with annual incomes under $30,000 have home computers.

“Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their schools’ educational resources,” said David L. Cohen, Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President, in a press release. “ The program will enable parents to receive digital literacy training so they can do things like apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live.”

The Internet Essentials program includes no price increases and no activation or rental equipment fees.

Once enrolled, participants will be able to continue receiving Internet service for $9.95 a month plus tax as long as at least one child in the household is getting free lunches under the National School Lunch Program and the family maintains their Comcast account in good standing.

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