Comcast Low-Cost Basic Internet Program: Good for Public Policy or Good for Business?

Written by: Chelsea Holmes

 

The Internet, through networks and infrastructure, allow people to communicate and connect all across the world. The problem is that many people across the globe do not have access to these electronic networks.

 

Here in America, we are struggling with providing broadband access to all Americans. According to the article “Mixed Response to Comcast in Expanding Net Access,” published on January 20th, 2013, by Amy Chozick for The New York Times, there are more than 100 million Americans who lack high-speed Internet access in their homes.

 

At first, this digital divide was seen as an issue between urban and rural areas of America. However, Chozick writes, “only about 7 percent of households without broadband are in rural areas without the necessary infrastructure; the bulk of the rest are low-income families who cannot afford the monthly bill, or do not feel it is a necessity, according to government statistics” (pg. 1).

 

Providing affordable broadband to low-income families is where the focus needs to be, and that is what Comcast, America’s largest cable and Internet provider, is trying to do.

 

Starting in May of 2011, Comcast developed a program called Internet Essentials, a program that allows any family that qualifies for the National School Lunch Program to be eligible for a $9.95 per month home Internet service. While this policy is a good idea, there have been mixed responses to what Comcast is trying to accomplish.

 

Comcast sees an area for profit, but also is able to help provide needed home Internet to low-income families. However, Chozick writes, “many advocacy groups argue that broadband has become so crucial to success in school and the work force that it should be treated like a public utility paid in part by government subsidies” (pg. 1).

 

There are many pros and cons to the program Comcast has in place, but there has and always will be a “natural monopoly” for broadband service. It is key that all players within this monopoly develop policies to help low-income families receive broadband because this is an issue that all must help solve.

 

 

Reference:

Chozick, A. (2013, January 20). Mixed response to Comcast in expanding net access. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/business/media/comcast-internet-essentials-brings-access-to-low-income-homes.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&ref=technology