Group Says Comcast Corp. Is Hiding Its Low-Cost Offering From Low-Income Families
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A community group says Comcast Corporation needs to do more to bridge the digital divide for low-income families.
About a dozen people — along with the activist organization Action United — dropped off complaints this morning with federal officials in center city Philadelphia.
Comcast’s “Internet Essentials” is restricted to certain low-income families, but cuts the cost of getting online to $9.95/month.
“I feel as though the Internet service will help my son to progress in math, reading, spelling,” says Dawn from North Philadelphia. But she says she couldn’t sign up:
“They told me I had a back bill from 10 years ago, so I was not qualified.”
Another barrier, says Marvin from West Philadelphia, is the apparent lack of publicity about the special offer for low-income families.
“None of the schools in my community know nothing about it,” he said today. “That’s a major problem.”
The program, created as a condition of Comcast’s merger with NBC-Universal, is aimed at families of kids who qualify for free and reduced-cost school lunches.
Charlie Douglas, senior director at Comcast, says the company is trying hard to reach that group.
“We publicized the program in 4,000 school districts, 30,000 schools,” he told KYW Newsradio today.
Douglas says the company is “proud” of Internet Essentials, and says praise for Comcast’s efforts has come from Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter and from the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
No kidding. The program’s website makes it clear that you can’t get this affirmative action cut rate internet service if you have a payable in arrears with Comcast. And as far as publicity, Comcast is doing this service as a race pandering loss leader to grease the skids to get Obama/FTC/SEC approval for the Comcast buyout of NBC. If you’re selling a product or service at a loss and selling it only to certain kinds of people, are you really in the mood to advertise?
The Comcast “Internet Essentials” website says that those who qualify for this program can also buy a computer for $150. But there’s a catch, found in the very last item in the FAQ:
Internet Essentials participants have the opportunity to purchase a netbook-style laptop computer. This computer supports wired and Wi-Fi Internet connectivity. Every computer shipped includes Windows 7 Starter operating system and Internet browser software. Additional productivity software may be included when available.
It’s a cheap netbook outfitted with a crippled version of Windows normally designated for the third world. (Then again, if the shoe fits.) Netbooks are useless for any real productivity, and the irony of that is that this Internet Essentials program is sold as giving impoverished low IQ blacks and Hispanics the ability to do school work and get better grades. Can’t do a term paper on one of those things, though I doubt the public schools in inner city Philly are assigning too many term papers. As far as “additional productivity software may be included when available,” that means that Microsoft hasn’t given the OEM of these netbooks the permission to pre-load a trial time-bombed version of Windows Home and Student onto the netbooks, though again, any real word processing or spreadsheet productivity on these things are just about impossible.
Because Internet Essentials doesn’t seem to come with a free router, the people who get these netbooks will have to keep theirs plugged into the wire unless they buy a router.
One more thing — With Philadelphia being anti-white hate central, many of their mahogany mobs organized on Twitter-Facebook, is it really a good idea to spread internet connectivity in that city?