Closing the gap

A story in today’s Washington Post should serve as an embarrassment to Canadian telecommunications policy makers and industry leaders.

As the article describes, Comcast announced an expansion of its $10 per month Internet Essentials service that targets low income households with school aged children. Internet Essentials is Comcast’s “Connect 2 Compete” product  that provides low-priced broadband to homes with students eligible for school lunch programs, as well as a voucher providing discounted access to refurbished computers.

Broadcasting & Cable wrote:

Since the program’s launch, says Comcast, there have been a number of enhancements, including expanding eligibility, doubling broadband speeds, boosted digital literacy training, and streamlining the approval process.

Comcast will continue the offer through the end of the 2013-2014 school year and the discount will continue to be available to participating families so long as they continue to have an eligible student in the household.

We have written extensively [such as here, here, and here] about such a program for more than a year. Half of all households in the lowest income quintile have no computer.

How do kids from low income households stand a chance when so many jobs require basic computer skills?

Will Canada’s elusive National Digital Strategy include a component to target getting low-income households online? Will the private sector demonstrate the leadership to address this affordability gap?

1 thought on “Closing the gap”

  1. Hey Mark, great piece. Maybe the leadership has to come from the CRTC. Maybe they should make such a program a condition of approval of some of the deals it has before it right now and ones that come forward in the future. It would certainly be an admirable and meaningful benefit that is definitely in the public interest.

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