Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Comcast Internet Essentials - Low Cost Internet

Comcast is bringing their ‘Internet Essentials’ to our local service area. Under this program, families who qualify for free school lunches are eligible for $10/month internet from Comcast.

Kudo’s to Comcast.

I see programs like this as an important factor in reducing the number of “have nots” in the already wide disparity between those who have access to broadband and those who do not. Broadband today is as critical to rural and economically poor areas as electricity was in the 1930s and 1940s. Back then, a rural farmer that had electricity could dramatically improve their productivity versus farmers with no electricity.

In the 1930s, my grandfathers sister moved from an electrified area of Wisconsin to a farm in Minnesota with no electricity. She had to pump water by hand, wash clothes by hand, heat the farmhouse with a wood stove, light kerosene lamps…

Today in Minnesota we have rural area’s where there is no wired broadband coverage, and we have both rural and metro areas where people with low incomes can’t afford the $30-50/month broadband entry fee. One of our CIO’s made it clear (to me) how important this is when he offered that bandwidth to his college was nowhere near as important as bandwidth to the rural area around his college. Rural students were dissuaded from taking classes because they would be forced to complete much of their class work while at the college rather than at home. For some, that’s a barrier.

FWIW – For the last ten years or so, we’ve been using Comcasts metro area gigabit Ethernet as the wide area network connection for about a dozen of our metro area colleges. The service is less expensive than any competitors and it has been at least as reliable as services from other carriers.