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FCC Launches Competition For Low-Income Broadband Subsidies

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by CatfishRivers, May 6, 2012.

  1. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    FCC Launches Competition For Low-Income Broadband Subsidies | Bloomberg BNA (click for full article)

    "Using $25 million in savings tied to the Universal Service Fund, the Federal Communication Commission is launching a competition to identify pilot programs that can increase high-speed Internet adoption in households earning less than $25,000 per year.


    The new initiative will build on Comcast's Internet Essentials program, a low-cost high-speed data service that the cable operator launched last year as part of the agreement it struck to win federal approval for its acquisition of NBCUniversal.


    The money will be distributed to telecom carriers eligible for subsidies under the federal Lifeline program for low-income broadband access, and will be spread around various areas of the country. Both fixed and mobile technologies will be eligible for the competition. Winners will be announced in the fall.


    "Low-income Americans are disproportionately excluded from the $8 trillion dollar global Internet economy, and all of its benefits," said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. "By reforming the Lifeline program earlier this year to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse, we were able to save tens of millions of dollars to support this competition. The data we collect will help identify the best ways to close the broadband adoption gap and unleash the benefits of high-speed Internet for every American."
     
  2. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    Comcast may double speed of Economy high-speed Internet tier - FierceCable (click for full article)

    "Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) appears poised to double the speed of its $39.95 monthly Economy high-speed Internet tier from 1.5 Mbps to 3 Mbps, following plans to increase the speed of the broadband package it is offering to low-income homes.


    The MSO said it will double the speed offered to homes that qualify for its low-income Internet Essentials program during the second quarter to 3 Mbps. About 41,000 families in Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver and other Comcast markets have signed up for Internet Essentials since last summer. In addition to doubling the speed it offers Internet Essentials subscribers, the company will expand availability to an additional 300,000 homes, making it available to 2.3 million low-income homes nationwide.


    With Comcast planning to double the speed of Internet Essentials during the second quarter, it's likely that it will increase the speed for its Economy tier at the same time. When Comcast introduced its Internet Essentials program last year, it offered subscribers the same 1.5 Mbps download speed it offered through its Economy tier. Thus, it's likely the carrier will boost the speed of Economy in conjunction with increasing the speed of Internet Essentials. "That's not something we can confirm at this time," Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said when asked whether Comcast would increase the speeds it offers to subscribers of its Economy package.


    Comcast offers subscribers in Washington, D.C., and other markets several tiers for high-speed Internet, including a $49.95 monthly Performance Starter tier and a $72.95 monthly "Blast!" tier that offers download speeds of 25 Mbps. The costs for its high-speed service are reduced when customers combine the service in bundles of digital cable and voice products.


    While Comcast disclosed the number of subscribers who have signed up for Internet Essentials for the first time on Tuesday, the MSO doesn't detail the number of subscribers who take faster tiers. Comcast is the largest U.S. broadband provider, counting about 18 million cable modem customers. It picked up 261,000 high-speed customers during the third quarter.


    One of the challenges the MSO has faced in signing subscribers to its Internet Essentials program is the fact that it is not available to previous customers who have not paid their bills. However, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen told reporters that low-income families with unpaid bills could still joint the program, noting that the MSO could work out payment plans and "compromises" with subscribers with unpaid bills.


    "We're in this to sign people up," Cohen said on a conference call. "We're not in this to not sign people up," he added.
    Several other cable MSOs have announced plans to offer similar discounted broadband access to low-income homes as part of the FCC's "Connect to Compete" initiative, including Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR). Cohen said Comcast doesn't have a specific goal in mind for Internet Essentials subscriber growth.


    "Now that we've got 41,000 families signed up, our goal is to do better," he added. "
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  3. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    Well I live in SW Florida and I subscribe to Comcast Economy internet service. In my area Comcast is now touting that their economy tier "is up to 3 mbps download". They also changed the name to "Economy Plus" and raised the price. I had been paying $26.95/mo for the internet service (along with a separate TV package also). Now the price is $29.95/mo - (provided that the customer also subscribes to an additional TV package). The Economy Plus internet service costs $39.95/mo without a TV package.


    Unfortunately I'm still getting the exact same speed I was getting before (which is 1.44 mbps download). I've power-cycled my modem but I still get the same result.


    Here's what the updated Comcast web site is saying:


    "Economy Plus
    Get download speeds up to 3 Mbps and uploads up to 768 Kbps.
    No dialing in required and no tying up the phone line.
    Surf the net, download music, upload photos and chat with friends faster than ever before.
    XFINITY is the fastest Internet provider in the nation according to PC Mag!
    Constant Guard™ - the most comprehensive online protection (a $360 value). Get Norton™ Security Suite and much more.
    XFINITY Connect with 7 email accounts, each with 10GB of storage.
    More than 3,500 live games on xfinity.com/espn3.
    Backed by the 30-Day Money-Back Comcast Customer Guarantee.


    This price is for customers who currently subscribe to Comcast Digital TV or Comcast Digital Voice® service. "
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  4. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    Competition for internet service is a good thing, check it out if you haven't already. The Comcast Xfinity price went up from $30 to $45 for us, we moved to AT&T U-verse for $30. Tested speeds only went down a little, we now get around 11Mbps and are subscribed to their 12Mbps plan. I was required to buy a $100 gateway and I could not figure out how to get that changed and use a supported modem I could get for $35 but there was probably a way.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  5. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    Success! After calling back in to the Comcast office I was finally able to get on the "Economy Plus" internet package. Turns out that in my area Comcast wasn't automatically updating Economy users to the new Economy Plus - nor are they informing them directly of the new improved service. Rather users need to call in and request the upgrade - as the switchover to Economy Plus is done from the Comcast office (at customer's request).


    I Just tested my download speed and it's 3.22 mbps. I was also able to get on a special for Economy Plus - the special is $14.95 for the first six months and then $29.95/mo for the next six months. I currently also have a special for "limited basic" TV package at $10/mo. I like the TV deal because I can't get over-the-air reception without an outdoor antenna - and the house I rent has no outdoor antenna. I get a surprising amount of content for the "basic" TV package.


    Overall I have no complaints with Comcast. I chose them over Direct TV & Dish because the satellite companies wanted huge deposits and wanted credit checks and other "fine print' in long multi-year contracts. I don't have bad credit - but rather I pay cash or pay in full for most everything - so it's like I don't have "established credit". So because of this Dish network and Direct TV wanted to "penalize" me with absurd deposits. I said "No Way Jose!". Comcast required no deposit at all to start their service - and no absurd fine print in their contracts.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012

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