With Merger Pending, Comcast Expands Internet Program for the Poor

The company’s plan fits closely with the administration’s goals.

Comcast service truck outside of a Comcast Payment and Technical Facility December 5, 2005 in Mount Prospect, Illinois.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
Brendan Sasso
March 4, 2014, 8:39 a.m.

Com­cast an­nounced Tues­day that it will ex­pand its pro­gram that provides high-speed In­ter­net ac­cess to poor fam­il­ies.

The com­pany also an­nounced more than $1 mil­lion in grants to non­profits to help con­nect more Amer­ic­ans to the In­ter­net.

Al­though Com­cast said its motives are purely al­tru­ist­ic, it’s hard to ig­nore that the an­nounce­ments align closely with tops goals for the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion just as reg­u­lat­ors pre­pare to scru­tin­ize Com­cast’s pro­posed $45 bil­lion pur­chase of Time Warner Cable.

Dav­id Co­hen, Com­cast’s ex­ec­ut­ive vice pres­id­ent, said the com­pany will in­def­in­itely ex­tend “In­ter­net Es­sen­tials” — the low-cost broad­band In­ter­net pro­gram that Com­cast first prom­ised to op­er­ate for at least three years in or­der to achieve reg­u­lat­ory ap­prov­al to buy NBC-Uni­ver­sal in 2011.

“With the re­cent an­nounce­ment of our mer­ger with Time Warner Cable, we see a tre­mend­ous and an ex­cit­ing op­por­tun­ity to bring the be­ne­fits of In­ter­net Es­sen­tials to mil­lions of ad­di­tion­al fam­il­ies,” Co­hen told re­port­ers.

He noted that if reg­u­lat­ors ap­prove the Time Warner Cable deal, the low-cost In­ter­net pro­gram will be avail­able in 19 of the na­tion’s 20 largest cit­ies.

“That’s go­ing to be a tre­mend­ous en­hance­ment to the eli­gible pop­u­la­tion of this pro­gram, and we look for­ward to ex­pand­ing the be­ne­fits of clos­ing the di­git­al di­vide to a lar­ger foot­print upon the close of the Time Warner Cable trans­ac­tion,” he said.

The pro­gram of­fers broad­band In­ter­net ser­vice for $9.99 per month for eli­gible low-in­come fam­il­ies. Ini­tially, fam­il­ies had to have a child that qual­i­fied for the fed­er­al free lunch pro­gram, but the com­pany has ex­pan­ded the pro­gram to in­clude chil­dren that qual­i­fy for low-cost lunches.

Com­cast has spent more than $165 mil­lion on ef­forts to pro­mote com­puter lit­er­acy, Co­hen said. That in­cludes free train­ing pro­grams, 3.6 mil­lion pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ments, 23,000 sub­sid­ized com­puters, and 33 mil­lion bro­chures.

Since 2011, Com­cast has con­nec­ted more than 30,0000 schools to high-speed In­ter­net in 39 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia as part of the pro­gram, the com­pany said.

Co­hen noted that the ef­forts are in line with goals of the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion and the White House.

Ex­pand­ing broad­band ac­cess to poor and rur­al fam­il­ies has been a pri­or­ity for the ad­min­is­tra­tion since it re­leased its Na­tion­al Broad­band Plan in 2010.

Con­nec­tED, a top do­mest­ic ini­ti­at­ive for Pres­id­ent Obama, would con­nect 99 per­cent of the na­tion’s stu­dents to high-speed In­ter­net with­in five years. FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er has already pledged $2 bil­lion of an agency fund to help the ad­min­is­tra­tion achieve that goal.

“At Com­cast we are proud to join the pres­id­ent’s call to ac­tion,” Co­hen said.

The FCC will ex­am­ine wheth­er Com­cast’s mer­ger with Time Warner Cable is in the pub­lic’s in­terest. Either the Justice De­part­ment or the Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion will in­vest­ig­ate wheth­er the deal vi­ol­ates fair com­pet­i­tion laws.

What We're Following See More »
DOCUMENTS OBTAINED BY U.S. INTEL
Putin-Linked Think Tank Developed Plan to Influence U.S. Election
3 days ago
THE LATEST

A Russian government think tank run by Putin loyalists "developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system." Two confidential documents from the Putin-backed Institute for Strategic Studies, obtained by U.S. intelligence, provide "the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election."

Source:
HELPED WIN FISA APPROVAL
FBI Relied on Dossier Allegations to Monitor Page
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification" to monitor Carter Page, who was then a defense adviser to the Trump campaign. "The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks."

Source:
AIR FORCE SCRAMBLES JETS IN RESPONSE
Russian Bombers Fly Near Alaska
5 days ago
WHY WE CARE
A MESSAGE TO RUSSIA?
Pentagon Deploying F-35s to Europe
1 weeks ago
THE LATEST

"The Air Force is set to deploy its high-tech, fifth-generation F-35A fighter jets to Europe this weekend as part of an effort to assure U.S. allies there who are worried about Russian aggression." The new, state-of-the-art fighters will train with European air units. "The Pentagon noted that the deployment had been long planned, meaning it was not a reaction to recent increasing tensions between the United States and Russia," although a statement noted the move is part of the "European Reassurance Initiative," which began three years ago when Russia annexed Crimea.

Source:
NOT ON SCHEDULE
Tillerson Meets Putin
1 weeks ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login