But the cracks in those offerings are becoming more and more apparent. Two months of discount service isn’t sufficient for what we need when millions have lost their jobs in an unprecedented pandemic. The speeds of Internet Essentials, Comcast’s discount program, are still way too slow for multiple kids and caregivers to get online. Undocumented families, homeless families, or families facing eviction are still struggling to get online or stay online. And in the districts where Comcast is working to get kids online for the school year, they are charging those cash-strapped districts anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars – even though Comcast is making immense profits on its broadband services during the pandemic.
After a free two-month promotion, that Comcast has the power to extend or cancel at will, families are forced to pay for low-speed internet they can’t afford. Comcast should guarantee free internet for all families that can’t afford it until the end of the pandemic.
At 25 mbps, students using Internet Essentials can barely hold a connection for video calls. If there’s more than one student in the house or a parent working from home, Internet Essentials becomes essentially useless. Comcast should stop exploiting low-income families with low-speed internet and advertising it as a solution for internet access. Increase the speed of Internet Essentials to 100 mbps permanently.
In big cities like DC and Detroit, Philly and Oakland and beyond, Comcast could get millions online right now by opening up their residential wireless hotspots for our children and families. Additionally, Comcast should make Internet Essentials accessible to far more people. It can do that by dropping its eligibility requirements that block those who struggle to pay for sky-high internet packages from applying.
...had my family crossing their fingers every day hoping that we would be able to connect to virtual classes. Several times a week, my kids would either become disconnected from their virtual classes, or not able to sign-in at all, because we weren't receiving promised fast internet speeds.
These poor internet connections led to students missing out on lessons, lessons having to be retaught, wasting valuable learning time, and made some students so deeply frustrated they just stopped logging in.
...in their schooling, some of my 8th graders are at a 4th grade reading level, and that was before the pandemic. That was before the switch to virtual learning. So how am I supposed to catch up my students when their internet keeps dropping?"
... I’m privileged enough to be able to afford the internet, to have so many active connections at one time and I can barely go forward with that … we’re living check to check … we can barely even afford the internet necessary for our own family.