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Digital divide narrows with Comcast's "Internet Essentials"

Comcast program offers $9.95/month internet to low-income families.

/Benjamin Siekmeier

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All Grand Rapids families with children who receive free school lunches may qualify for Comcast's "Internet Essentials" program, which offers broadband internet for $9.95 per month and an optional netbook for $149.99. The program launched in Grand Rapids back in September 2011, and is still offered throughout the city.

"Internet access is vital, in a world that is technology driven," says Tova Mays of LINC, a Grand Rapids nonprofit seeking to holistically revitalize communities and leading neighborhood engagement efforts to close the educational achievement gap through the Believe 2 Become initiative. "Having the internet is like having automatic access to vast amounts of information, cultures, financial conditions, medical breakthroughs, fashion icons, political matters, educational pursuits and even the opportunity to speak your own voice on a blog. The internet is a tool that grants limitless options."

This program has the potential to narrow the digital divide, and perhaps even the achievement gap, by providing internet service, equipment and computers to families who would normally struggle to afford the costs ensued. The program aims to remove financial barriers and provide internet training to those who are inexperienced in using the internet.

Families interested in taking advantage of this service can call 1-855-846-8376. Spanish speaking representatives are available.

Those interested in spreading the word about this service can visit the "Internet Essentials" partner page.

Reportedly, the program is geared to be provided with no strings attached:

  • no activation fee
  • no contract
  • no need to prove income; instead a copy of free lunch letter from child's school or letter from NSLP is required
  • free Norton Antivirus with parental control
  • 24/7 customer service
  • no need to purchase modem

There are, however, some things that could disqualify a family from being a part of the program:

  • subscription to Comcast in the last 90 days
  • unpaid bill or unreturned Comcast equipment

Eligibility for free school lunches depends on income and family size. If a family of four earns less than $29,055 they are eligible for free school lunches.

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Comcast recently announced that families who receive reduced school lunches may also be eligible.  They also say that they have doubled internet speeds. 


Comcast recently announced that families who receive reduced school lunches may also be eligible.  They also say that they have doubled internet speeds.