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Comcast to offer low income Internet service to Time Warner customers soon

On Tuesday morning, according to a Reuters report, Comcast Corp announced that its low income Internet service will continue indefinitely. The broadband service is called Internet Essentials, which is offered to low income families who have children. Currently, Comcast charges $9.95 per month for the service, which comes with various other perks as well.

Comcast Gears Up for Time Warner Merger
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Reuters believes this should be pleasing to U.S. regulators while takeover negotiations continue. Comcast Corp is seeking approval to take over Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion.

Internet Essentials Reaches Millions

Since the discounted Internet service program was launched in 2011, around 300,000 low-income families have been enrolled. By Comcast’s estimates, about 2.6 million families in the U.S. are actually eligible for their affordable broadband service. The original plan was for the program to continue running throughout the 2013-2014 school year. Now, Comcast plans for Internet Essentials to run indefinitely.

If the proposed merger is approved, Comcast’s expansion into Time Warner Cable’s markets will definitely expand the program. The low income Internet program will be offered 19-out-of-20 American cities.

The cable mogul’s executives are calling Internet Essentials the “largest broadband adoption program by both geography and subscribers.” According to David L Cohen, Executive VP of Comcast, no other government of private broadband adoption program in America has had the impact or reach that Internet Essentials has since its launch.

Comcast Works to Keep Promises

Back in 2011, Comcast made a promise to federal regulators in order to be granted approval for their merger with NBC Universal. In exchange, the largest cable provider in the U.S. promised “broader deployment and adoption of broadband”, according to the Reuters report. The Internet Essentials low income program is just one of the steps Comcast has taken to keep that promise.

Many are calling this a “bargaining chip” as the cable mogul continues to seek the federal government’s approval of the $45.2 billion Time Warner Cable, Inc. acquisition. As of Tuesday, the parties responsible for reviewing antitrust issues, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Justice Department, haven’t evaluated the proposed merger yet.

Low Income Internet Program Continues to Expand

Since the launch of the program, Comcast has expanded it in order to reach even more low income families. Currently, the low income Internet from Comcast is also being offered to the following:

  • Low income families with school-aged children who qualify for discounted or free school lunches
  • Homeschoolers and students of cyber-schools, private schools and parochial schools who are also considered to be from low income families
  • Note: Only families who have not active customers of Comcast within 90-days of putting in an application for Internet Essentials

The Reuter report ends on the following note:

The FCC and the Justice Department were expected to launch their reviews of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal at the end of the month, after Comcast submits required documents. The reviews were likely to take months to complete... The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee planned to hold a hearing on the merger on March 26.

Does your local cable provider or telephone company offer discounted Internet? If so, we'd like to hear about it? Leave your comments below to share your thoughts.

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