1,453 Cape families may be eligible for low-cost internet

Comcast Expands “Internet Essentials” Program, tied to Free & Reduced Lunch Program

Over 7,000 Cape area children were on the free lunch program in Fiscal 2012 according to statistics published by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  1,453 children were on the reduced lunch program.

Internet Essentials provides cable Internet service for only $9.99 per month

By Walter Brooks

As many as 1,453 additional Cape area families may be eligible for low cost Internet access under the Comcast Internet Essentials program.  Comcast recently extended eligibility to families that qualify for Federal Reduced Lunch assistance.  The program was previously limited to families on the Federal Free Lunch program.  Internet Essentials provides cable Internet service for only $9.99 per month plus tax.

Over 7,000 Cape area children were on the free lunch programOver 7,000 Cape area children were on the free lunch program in Fiscal 2012 according to statistics published by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  1,453 children were on the reduced lunch program.  State-wide, 289,452 children receive free lunch and 45,761 receive reduced lunch.

Comcast recently doubled the service speed for Internet Essentials from 1.5 megabits per second (MBPS) to 3 MBPS.  Comcast bundles the Norton Security Suite and parental controls with Internet Essentials. 

To be eligible for the service, a household must meet the following criteria:

  • Located within a Comcast service area
  • Have at least one child who receives free or reduced school lunches under the National School Lunch Program
  • Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet for the past 90 days
  • Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment


We bundle Internet Essentials literature with all Laptops for KidZ computers.”
            - Robert Fellows, MAF.
One year ago Cape Cod Today was the first local news source to report on the Internet Essentials service.  At that time the Masonic Angel Foundation’s Laptops for KidZ project had enrolled as an Internet Essentials partner with Comcast. MAF President Robert Fellows told us today, “We bundle Internet Essentials literature with all Laptops for KidZ computers.” 

The Masonic Angel Fund also outreached to their partner school districts to make sure they were aware that the low cost service was available.

2.3 million households potentially eligible for the service

Nationally, Comcast reports that over 91,000 households have gone online through the Internet Essentials program.  Adding reduced lunch eligibility to the program targets another 300,000 households for the program – making a total of 2.3 million households potentially eligible for the service.  Comcast is working with more than 4,000 school districts in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

The program also offers a netbook computer to eligible families for $149.99.The program offers a netbook computer to eligible families for $149.99. Nationally, only 11,458 of the 91,000 households enrolled ended up purchasing the netbook.  Many Cape families on Internet Essentials no doubt received a free laptop through Laptops for KidZ and their local school.

Comcast’s full report to the Federal Communications Commission on the first year of the program is available here.

The service was established as part of Comcast’s agreement with the FCC over their acquisition of NBC.  The FCC mandated that the company come up with a way to get low income families connected to the Internet.

Eligible families may start the application process by calling 1-855-8-INTERNET.  Further information is available at  www.InternetEssentials.com.

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