This week’s #TCFBest winner comes to us from the Roosevelt Institute’s John Randall (@johntrandall). Writing at Roosevelt’s blog, Next New Deal, Randall dives into Comcast’s Internet Essentials offering, a program nominally aimed at providing low-cost, high speed Internet access for the poor. Randall concludes that the program benefits Comcast far more than it helps the poor.
High-speed Internet access might once have been a luxury product, but as more services move online—and more jobs require that applications be submitted online—reliable access to Internet connections that can support modern data-intensive websites is becoming a necessity. And as Susan P. Crawford (@scrawford), Randall’s colleage at Roosevelt, has argued, America increasingly has “two separate access marketplaces: high-speed wired and second-class wireless.”
While Comcast’s PR would have you believe that Digital Divide program addresses these concerns by providing $9.95-per-month high-speed access, the reality, says Randall, is that
the program is a cleverly designed customer acquisition program that benefits Comcast’s bottom line. The program is ineffective: the connections are not “high-speed,” the program assists very few people, and the the program does nothing for those who can’t get a connection at all where they live. More importantly, the program does nothing to address the fundamental reason for the lack of ubiquitous, affordable high-speed Internet access in this country – the lack of competition.
The entire piece is definitely worth a read.
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