Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, is allowing groups and nonprofits to buy prepaid cards for its Internet Essentials broadband service.
Recent press releases say the option will roll out in the second half of 2013.
Comcast is required to offer Internet Essentials to qualifiying families and customers. Criteria are:
- Have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program
- Have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days
- Not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment
The eligibility also includes families with home-schooled students and those with students in private or parochial schools. Since starting the service, Comcast has enrolled more than 150,000 families, representing a total of 600,000 low-income Americans (including 300,000 children), the company disclosed recently.
The offer means eligible homes pay $9.95 per month for Internet service measuring 3 Mbps.
Comcast itself recognizes the service is essential in bridging the "digital divide." It said it's seen broadband adoption in higher-income areas reaching around 90 percent of households. While in lower income areas, the rate of adoption approaches 15 to 20 percent of households.
See this a blog post for a recent Comcast blog post on that topic.
The Internet Essentials Opportunity Cards will provide “yet another way to accelerate enrollment by empowering community-based partners, businesses and foundations to help connect families to the Internet,” Comcast said in a statement.