A Former Comcast Employee Explains Why Low-Income WiFi Packages Aren’t Helping Students

By Caroline O’Donovan

As remote learning dragged on through 2020, the coronavirus pandemic pitted Comcast against an unlikely opponent: a group of teenagers.

Since last spring, Baltimore-based student activists have been waging a campaign for faster internet speeds and arguing that the telecom behemoth’s Wi-Fi offering for low-income households, Internet Essentials, isn’t always fast enough for successful distance learning.

Comcast has repeatedly insisted that its speeds meet the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standard for high-speed broadband — but now, a former employee who quit his job in frustration has come forward to say that, based on his experience, Internet Essentials isn’t providing the service students need to learn.

Internet Essentials costs $9.95 per month — considerably cheaper than a standard plan, but also considerably slower. The program is targeted at families who already qualify for other subsidized services, like food assistance or housing benefits. Comcast introduced Internet Essentials in 2011 as a bargaining chip with federal regulators as part of its acquisition of NBCUniversal, the Washington Post reported at the time. (NBCUniversal is an investor in BuzzFeed.)

“If it was working technically and that was enough, there wouldn’t be so many people calling with problems,” former Comcast employee Chase Roper, whose tweet about Internet Essentials went viral earlier this month, told BuzzFeed News.


via Buzzfeed News