Comcast's low-cost internet program is now available to public housing residents - Philly


Mar. 25, 2016 10:06 am

Comcast’s low-cost internet program is now available to public housing residents

It's an example of the telecom giant making good on its promise, as per the city's new franchise agreement, to pilot Internet Essentials expansions in Philadelphia.

Residents of the Philadelphia Housing Authority are now eligible for Internet Essentials.

(Photo by Flickr user Paul Sableman, used under a Creative Commons license)

Full disclosure: Comcast is the title sponsor of Philly Tech Week 2016, which is organized by

Philadelphia Housing Authority residents are now eligible for Comcast’s subsidized internet program, Internet Essentials.

Previously, the program was open to households with children that qualify for free or reduced lunch (and that do not have any late bills). This will open it up to those without children — something advocates fought for, and won, during the city’s franchise negotiation with Comcast last year.

There are more than 5,000 PHA residences, said Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Bilotta, though Comcast did not have a number on how many of those addresses were already eligible.

The expansion is part of a federal program to close the digital divide and Comcast is piloting it in Philadelphia, Seattle, Miami and Nashville. It’s Comcast making good on its promise, as per the city’s new franchise agreement, to pilot any Internet Essentials expansions in Philadelphia. (This was a point of contention during the franchise agreement negotiations because Comcast piloted a senior citizen expansion in Florida and not Philadelphia.) Note that the City of Seattle, which used Philadelphia’s franchise agreement as leverage to get a better deal, is also included.

The news comes as the City of Philadelphia and Comcast are working out an expanded Internet Essentials program under the city’s new franchise agreement. The expanded program, which will include senior citizens and low-income Philadelphians without children, will launch mid-May, Bilotta said.

2015 was Internet Essentials’ biggest year yet, with a 30 percent increase in sign-ups from 2014. Six hundred thousand households are now using the service nationally, according to a press release. Locally, 24,000 families have signed up for the service, up from 15,000 this time last year, Bilotta said.

Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes was's editorial product lead after reporting on the Philadelphia tech scene for four years. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.

  • Much of PHA is wired to Wilco exclusively. This is a tiny step on Comcast’s part, and difficult to view as anything other than deliberately negligible.


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