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TUESDAY, OCT. 11, 2011, 10:52 A.M.

Comcast offers more details about Essentials web service for familes

Comcast Corp. has launched a three-year effort to push broadband technology into lower-income homes. Called the Internet Essentials program, the test will offer $9.95 per month broadband connections to every family who lives in the Comcast service area and who has a child receiving free school lunches.

Launched this past summer, the program will run through 2013, said Comcast spokesman Walt Neary. Neary visited Spokane this week and took part in two sessions explaining the program.

Eligible families can also receive a voucher worth $150 toward the purchase of a netbook computer for use in the program.

In addition, Comcast is arranging for free Internet training across Washington state for eligible families. In Spokane those courses will be provided through the Boys and Girls Club of Spokane County and through Tincan, a nonprofit that advocates for technology training.

No starting dates for the classes have been announced.

To be eligible, a family must live within Comcast’s service area, have a child participating in a free lunch school program and not have used the company’s Internet service within the preceding 90 days.

Once signed up, the program continues at $9.95 through the child’s senior year in school if the student continues receiving a free lunch.

Comcast officials say between two and three million children within its national service area are eligible.

Comcast will not make any attempt to upsell more services to families using the program, Neary added.

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.