By Karen Daniels
In an attempt to get the word out on their outreach program, Internet Essentials, Comcast representative Craig D’Agostini gave a presentation last week to Stafford’s City Council. This program is a rebooted 2.0 version that Comcast has fine tuned to provide discounted internet service to qualified lower income families. In the past, only parents of students enrolled in the free lunch programs were eligible. Comcast has now changed that to include those enrolled in the reduced lunch programs as well. The outreach will allow these families to pay $9.95 per month for internet access with no price increases, no activation fees, and no installation charges. Additionally Comcast has discontinued their credit check for customers in this program.
Comcast is aware that most schools now conduct much of their grading, assignments, and contact with parents through computers. If you don’t have a computer, for $149 Comcast will sell you an Acer Netbook computer with training, either on-line or in-person, with the anti-virus software and parental controls at no extra charge. The prior outreach program did not come with their highest-speed internet, but the new program has upgraded their speed. Mayor Scarcella expressed concern for families who can’t afford the cost of a computer. Mr. D’Agostini explained that at this time “this is all Comcast can afford to do” but assured a price guarantee of $9.95 for the students from kindergarten all the way through the twelfth grade.
One of the biggest deterrents facing Comcast on signing up new members in this program is that it is not eligible to current members. However, there is a loop hole. If you cancel your current membership for ninety days, you can then reapply. The outreach program will be accepting new members for the next three years.
Also in the audience listening to the presentation were Stafford MSD Superintendent Dr. Hindt and Board of Trustees President Ettienne Zak. Dr. Hindt said that, “SMSD is very appreciative to Comcast for their willingness to work with our economically deprived student population. I look forward to engaging in conversation with the Comcast representatives to possibly partner to meet the needs of not only our economically deprived students but all students in the community of Stafford Municipal School District.”