Comcast Becomes The New Plug For Low Income Households
By Namon Freeman
Comcast to expand $10 broadband potentially serving 7 million low income households
In some majority black cities, up to 60% of households don’t have wired service
For the past 8 years Comcast (CMCSA +2.36%) has been providing its Internet Essentials service to low income households. The program has connected more than 2 million households thus far across the United States for a monthly payment of $10 per month. In some majority black cities, up to 60% of households don’t have wired service and this could be a game changer. In addition to broadband service the program also offers low-cost computers for under $150 and computer literacy training through its nonprofit partners.
Why This Matters: The service was originally available to households with children receiving federal free or reduced lunch but will now be open to seniors and persons with disabilities. Although the service doesn’t meet the FCC benchmark of 25 Mbps, it speed has been upgraded from the original 1.5 Mbps to 15 Mbps.
Young black adults are disproportionately employed in low quality jobs. The Brookings Institute found that although race plays a role in this disparity, the variance can primarily be attributed to childhood household socio-economic status. In high poverty cities like Flint, MI and Trenton NJ up to 60% of households do not have access to wired broadband service.
In the mostly black city of Detroit nearly 40% of households have no home internet service and more than 15% only access the internet through their mobile device. Many children living in these communities are only able to access the internet while at school or when they’re in reach of public wifi, if they have a capable device. The digital revolution doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, if internet access isn’t prioritized as an essential component of public infrastructure the digital divide of today is prone to become the economic and employment divide of tomorrow.
Situational Awareness: President Donald Trump has trumpeted the cause of closing the digital divide, mainly focusing on his electoral base in rural communities. With the recent departure FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, an Obama nominee and net neutrality advocate the hopes maintaining equitable access to the world wide web may be waning. Now Imagine if your little cousins asked for your phone to do their homework instead of playing for Candy Crush. Let that sink in.
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