Comcast Corp has recently agreed to lower their prices for low-income families in order to get their purchase of NBC Universal approved by federal regulators in a move that could significantly alter the percentage of people who have access to high speed internet.
The initiative, dubbed Internet Essentials, targets families with children who can prove they qualify for the National School Lunch Program and will charge $9.95 a month down from around $48 dollars. The program also includes the option to purchase a refurbished notebook computer for $150, should the family need one. What’s the hook? Well, they admittedly recognize the fact that only a 20% low-income families have purchased internet services, compared to %80 of higher-income families.
Apparently some people are starting to realize that products like Internet service can be charged at a sliding scale, and that essentially, the Digital Divide is bad for business.
For teachers who teach in communities where the internet is a luxury, this is definitely good news. The first day of school an unofficial show of hands in my class showed that only a handful of kids had access to the internet.
Oakland Unified (CA) is already spreading the Comcast official promotional materials, as probably many districts nationwide are doing this first few weeks of school. Other districts may not be so sharp, so that puts us educators in a position of playing Comcast sales reps, a role many would find uncomfortable. But with prices this low, not mentioning it would be a disservice to the communities we work in.
Here is the link for community members and educators who (as Comcast knows) might have a stake in promoting this.