Low-cost Internet for low-income families: Cheap Trick Thursday

If you're part of a household with at least one child who receives free lunch at school, you may qualify for low-cost Internet access for this school year.

Comcast is going to start offering Internet Essentials, which will cost $9.95 per month for download speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 384 Kbps.

In addition for qualifying for free school lunch, participants must live in Comcast country, but they can't owe money to the company for past-due bills or unreturned equipment.

Don't have a computer? Comcast will offer customers the chance to purchase a low-cost netbook.

Comcast, according to its FAQ, is committed to offering it for three school years. Mashable reports the company's motivation for providing this program stems from its merger with NBC Universal, in which it promised to increase broadband access to low-income neighborhoods.

Are you planning to apply? Call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) for an application.

Essentially, families who qualify for food stamps (now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) automatically get free lunches. As a former education reporter, I remember that often enrollment in the free lunch program often drops off in the higher grades. I wonder if a program like this will serve as an incentive for families to keep filling out that paperwork.

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