Comcast is making more poor families eligible for a program offering $10-a-month broadband Internet access, and it's offering them a period of free service as part of a back-to-school promotion.
Households with past due balances were previously barred from the program, known as Internet Essentials, but they will no longer be if their unpaid bills are more than a year old, according to a blog post on Comcast's website. The Philadelphia-based cable television and Internet service provider also said it would allow families with a "reasonable" amount of debt to pay it off in installments.
Anyone signing up for the services through Sept. 20 will get up to six months of Internet access for free, the post said.
Comcast launched Internet Essentials in 2011 to families with children who receive free or reduced-price school lunches, a common poverty yardstick. Since then, 350,000 households including 1.4 million people have subscribed to the service.
According to Comcast, research shows that 30 percent of Americans don't subscribe to high-speed Internet services at home, though only 7 percent live in rural communities without broadband infrastructure.
The program also offers customers $150 computers, having sold 30,000 of them over the past three years, according to Comcast.
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