Comcast program offers affordable Internet, netbook to families in need

With six kids, the Warmoth family of Puyallup really needs to be online.

They have a computer, but until recently they couldn't afford the monthly service charge for Internet access.

Summer Warmoth says they went without for about three years.

"And we've reduced our budget as much as we could, but it's an expense that we couldn't do anymore," she said.

But she says the Internet is something her kids' teachers assume all students have access to at home.

"How do you turn in your school work if you can't get the information? It's on the Internet. I don't think kids know anymore how to go into the library and open a book and find the answer," she said.

Thanks to Comcast's Internet Essentials, they have high-speed broadband service for just $9.95 a month. They weren't charged an installation fee and the price will never go up. The Warmoth family couldn't be happier with the option.

"I like it, because then I can get my homework turned in on time. I can learn my math facts more and I can get more smart," said Kaisa Warmoth.

"I use it on all of my math and vocabulary," said Damon Warmoth.

Internet Essentials is available to any family in the U.S. with a child who is eligible to receive free or reduced-price school lunches under the national school lunch program. To qualify, you must be a new subscriber (you have not had Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days) and you cannot have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.

Comcast's Steve Kipp says the program is designed to help families who might otherwise be cut off from the digital world.

"We estimate there's about 30 percent of families are on what we call the wrong side of the digital divide -- they don't have any online service. And we're looking at that and saying one of the big barriers to that is the cost," he said.

Because of this program, the Warmoth family is now one of more than 5,000 families in the state on the right side of that digital divide.

Comcast also offers a netbook computer through its Internet Essentials program for just $150 plus tax. To qualify for the program, you must live where Comcast offers Internet service, and have at least one child eligible for the free or reduced school lunch program.

By the way, Comcast agreed to do this as part of its agreement with the feds to buy NBC Universal.

For more information on Comcast Internet Essentials, visit its site in English or call 1-855-846-8376. Comcast also has a Spanish-language site and phone line: 1-855-765-6995.

CenturyLink has a similar but slightly different program called Internet Basics you might also want to check out.