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Comcast Launching $9.95 Low Income Broadband Plan 277

Posted by timothy
from the paternal-instinct dept.
MojoKid writes "Comcast is launching 'Internet Essentials,' a new initiative offering discounted Internet access and home computers to families that meet low income requirements. The program was mandated as a requirement of Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal, earlier this year. In that way, it's very similar to AT&T's Naked DSL program, which AT&T was required to offer as a condition of its merger with BellSouth. Internet Essentials will be available wherever Comcast offers broadband, which means 39 states."
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Comcast Launching $9.95 Low Income Broadband Plan

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  • Re:From the website (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Arterion (941661) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @05:03AM (#37013072)

    At the expense of replying to my own post:

    I'm a little upset this is only for people with children in school. If you're just poor, you're out of luck. I am specifically thinking of seniors, but also the unemployed and perhaps homes with children who are either too young for school, or children in college. For the unemployed, they could use it to try and find work. With gas prices being what they are, $9.95 is much cheaper than driving/bussing to the unemployment office or library to use a computer, and cheaper than subscribing to a local newspaper. They could also gain job skills if they wanted to use it to find free training materials online.

    As for seniors, I think there have been plenty of studies that show a wide array of activities -- almost all of them available via the internet -- can help keep their minds agile, and stave off senility. It might not be much, but it could reduce some burden on Medicare, as seniors could live on their own longer rather than living in a nursing home, or injure themselves less.

    I think the potential economic benefit of internet for the poor is more than enough to justify whatever subsidies or tax breaks Comcast is getting for doing it.

  • Re:From the website (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @05:21AM (#37013104) Journal

    I agree with everything you said, and would add that affordable internet access is a necessity in the US today. Most employers will just assume you have it, and to access the internal shift scheduling system you'll need home internet access. It's just as bad, if not worse, than not having a phone. If an employer found out you had no home internet access they'd probably skip over you just as often as if they found out you had no phone number or home address; you're just not worth the hassle. Obviously this isn't true for all jobs, but definitely for some.

    The US model is fundamentally broken because it used public money to finance private infrastructure. The lines themselves should be public, which the government leases to private business to provide internet service, and if a new company wants to start up, they get the same chance to compete as the big guys. Until we have something close to that we're not going to have fairness or equity in the distribution of this essential utility. Private enterprise alone is not going to take care of the poor and their needs, despite the fact that there are some basic needs common to everyone, regardless of their income. It's just not profitable to provide poor people with internet.

    Not giving those people the hand up they need hurts everyone in the long run, it's a shame that the mindset of conservatism seems to be not to do what is ultimately most fiscally responsible, but what perpetuates their notion of capitalist karmic justice. You can't help the poor, because they deserve to be punished. They deserve to be punished, or at least allowed to suffer, so they will improve themselves. You don't get to examine if they have the means for self improvement or not, that's beyond the scope of the notion of justice that conservatism holds. If you didn't deserve to be treated like that, you wouldn't be poor.

    Doing too much for people is also bad, but we are soooo far away from that in the US that we can afford to go full tilt toward The Welfare State without risking going over the ledge of left-wing extremism and taking TOO much care of people. We've lost our center in the US. Conservatives see us drifting farther to the left, when in reality we are pegged to the right and the momentum is still in that direction.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday August 07, 2011 @05:58AM (#37013206) Journal
    Well, as IPv4 addresses become scarce, having a load of customers on IPv6 with NAT64 to access v4 sites may be cheaper. Rolling this out for the people too poor to switch to an alternative service first makes sense from a business standpoint.
  • by DavidShor (928926) <`supergeek717' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday August 07, 2011 @11:15AM (#37014688) Homepage
    "Let's not argue about giving everyone a car based on cost, because it's pathetic when compared to things that already exist. The right to a home, the right to a job, the right to medical care and the right to a family ... those are the ones that are expensive.

    And you know what ? We're simply not able to pay for them. Seriously, if you raised taxes to 100%, and *somehow* this didn't affect the economy, we wouldn't be able to pay for what we currently have. So it's going to disappear"

    Numerically, that isn't true. In the Netherlands for example, everyone has access to cheap and high quality medical care, generous family support and free pre-school, access to massive job-retraining programs that have kept unemployment below 4% even in recessions, as well as access to generous crime-free public housing projects. And they do it all with efficient government and slightly higher taxes, while maintaining a smaller debt burden as a percent of GDP and faster GDP growth over the last 20 years. More on topic, they also have faster and cheaper internet!

    Conservatives spend so much time fighting the ghosts of hippies from the 70's that they fail look around and realize that other countries have largely solved the public policy problems facing this country and have done so in ways that made their countries stronger. But unfortunately, a lot of the political establishment is more interested in acting tough and serious than they are in actually solving problems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07, 2011 @04:25PM (#37017076)

    In Utah - and many other states, too - the oligopoly companies (Comcast, Qwest, etc) have killed the ability for public funding of broadband. They (I don't distinguish between the wholly owned legislators and their corporate overlords) passed legislation after UTOPIA, the public fiber project, was initiated so that nothing like it could ever happen again. Then, they went suit happy against UTOPIA. If anything happened in the general vicinity of the UTOPIA installation - they sued/filed injunctions to stop construction. It has nearly killed the public fiber idea.

    The way that UTOPIA was funded was through a series of cities that wanted upgraded infrastructure. Those cities held bonds to fund the project. The money wasn't limitless as every bond had to go for a vote. Once the oligopoly killed the ability to raise funds... well, it was really no different than a private company. The oligopoly knew exactly how to kill another company.

    Recently, UTOPIA had to scale way back, partner, and is really struggling for economic viability. I'm not sure it will survive - I can't tell you the reasons as I've not followed it THAT closely, but I would almost wager that the oligopoly had a lot (maybe: everything) to do with their struggles. I've been waiting for UTOPIA in my neighborhood - I WANT to support them. But, it's a pipe-dream, I'm afraid.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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