Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which provides broadband access to low-income Americans, has always been a nice idea. The reality, unfortunately, has been slow to catch up to the promise. Still, expanding affordable access to the most underserved is a laudable goal, so the big Internet Essentials expansion Comcast is announcing is good news.
AT&T is today making good on a promise it had to make to the FCC last year, announcing their new program to connect more poor Americans to the internet and bridge that infamous digital divide.
There’s a general feeling in the air that mobile everything is the wave of the future. Optimized websites, streaming apps, new data packages… everything points to a continuing trend of our lives centering around the pocket computers we all carry and still anachronistically call “phones.” It’s one of those things we all “know,” anecdotally as much as anything else. But now there’s new data showing that not only is the mobile future already here, but also it’s robust enough that consumers are starting to pull the plug on their home internet connections.
By 2015 it seems like everyone has broadband access, but that “everyone” is very deceptive. Although the vast majority of middle- and high-income homes in the United States have broadband access at home, low-income homes are much less likely to.
The FCC voted 3-2 today to expand the Lifeline program for low-income consumers to include an optional credit for broadband access.
The FCC is going to be voting this week on a proposal to make a big change to one of their programs, Lifeline. The program — a subsidy that helps low-income consumers pay for phone service — may expand to help them pay for broadband, too. The topic is politically charged and coverage can be a bit confusing, so here’s a guide on what the FCC currently does with it and what they’re planning to do next.
Comcast Happy To Sing Comcast’s Praises To Regulators For Making Tiny Improvements To Broadband Access Program For Low-Income Families
Comcast yesterday announced a few changes to its Internet Essentials program. The program is, in theory, great. It aims to provide broadband internet access to low-income households, allowing families to stay connected to critical jobs, education, government and social services, and social media just like everyone else. And while Comcast is indeed taking baby steps to let more families access Internet Essentials, they are mainly taking great strides to shout aloud about every incremental, insufficient change in the hopes that regulators will nod along.
Back in 2011, Comcast launched a program to help low-income families. The program, Comcast Internet Essentials, lets certain families enroll in 5 MBps broadband for $10 a month. In timing that was completely coincidental we’re sure, shortly after announcing their plan to buy Time Warner Cable, Comcast announced an indefinite extension to the program.
Reader yesfarro doesn’t exactly live far from civilization, but she does live far from civilized telecommunications. Mobile phone reception isn’t great, but more importantly, there is no broadband. No cable, no DSL, no anything. She gets by using dial-up through aT&T, but even that has become significantly slower than usual due to a problem with the phone lines that no one–not AT&T, not BellSouth–knows how to resolve.
In the net neutrality debate, there are a surprising number of grassroots organizations (well, surprising to me at any rate) that have filed statements against the FCC’s recent draft of rules. Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica just published an interesting article where he looks at some of these groups and tries to figure out whether AT&T is secretly influencing them, or whether they really do think net neutrality will hurt those they represent–frequently minority groups–in the long run.