A Guide to Internet Essentials by Comcast
Having a reliable and affordable internet connection is critical today, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and Internet Essentials by Comcast is taking a step toward making the internet accessible for all. It’s a low-cost, high-speed internet plan for families in financial need.
Launched in 2011, Comcast Internet Essentials currently serves 10 million families. It offers an internet plan for only $9.95/month, which is ultra-affordable compared to solutions from other internet service providers (ISPs). What’s more, there is no contract involved, so you can cancel your subscription at any time and you won’t need to pay for installation.
In September 2021, Comcast expanded its eligibility criteria to cater to Federal Pell Grant recipients in its serviceable areas. The expansion is expected to help a large number of students stay digitally connected as they continue their education. Interested in learning more? We’ve put together this guide that covers everything you need to know about the Internet Essentials program.
What is Internet Essentials by Comcast?
Comcast Internet Essentials is a budget-friendly, efficient, and high-speed internet plan that caters to families with financial challenges. Comcast has worked to address the digital divide between the rich and the poor by developing a low-cost internet solution that services low-income families who might otherwise be unable to afford home internet. The plan provides internet download speeds of up to 50Mbps and upload speeds of 10Mbps, which is sufficient for internet use in most households.
Eligible users get monthly access to 40 hours of Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots and also have the option to buy a subsidized, low-cost, internet-ready computer for $149.99 + tax. Other benefits include access to free digital literacy training online, on paper, and in person. So far, Comcast has provided 130,000 low-income people with affordable subsidized computers and they have donated more than 20,000 internet-ready devices to families and community-based organizations since 2015.
Who is eligible for Comcast Internet Essentials?
To be eligible for Comcast Internet Essentials, you must live in the area that Comcast serves and qualify for any of the following government assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Veterans Administration (VA) Pension
- Tribal assistance
- Public housing assistance
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- National School Lunch Program (NSLP)/Head Start
- Federal Pell Grant
- Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC)
If you want to take advantage of Comcast’s low-cost internet service, you must first request an eligibility letter from one of the programs listed above. Upon receiving the letter or any document that verifies your eligibility, you can apply for Comcast Internet Essentials service.
Furthermore, once you obtain the eligibility letter, you will have to check whether your current address is covered by Comcast internet services. Once you qualify, you can always register for the internet program and wait for Comcast representatives to get in touch with you.
Note: Each year, you’ll have to provide Comcast or its authorized agent with evidence that a member of your family continues to receive qualifying public assistance. Failing to provide the requested documents will make you ineligible to participate in the Internet Essentials program.
How to apply for the Internet Essentials program
Step 1: Check to see if you qualify
To qualify for the program, consider the following list of requirements:
- You are eligible for any of the government assistance programs listed in the previous section.
- You are located in an area where Comcast’s Internet Essentials service is available.
- You must ensure that you have not signed up for any other internet broadband service.*
- You will have to prove you have not signed up for Comcast internet within the past three months.
- You should not have any past debt with Comcast, meaning no outstanding dues that are less than a year old. However, if your family has an outstanding debt that’s more than a year old, you may still be eligible.**
*As of a recent update, Xfinity internet customers can take advantage of the Comcast Internet Essentials service if they enroll in and are also approved for the Affordable Connectivity Program. To do this, they must apply for the Internet Essentials program and be approved by June 30, 2022.
**Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families with unpaid debt owed to Comcast may be eligible for Internet Essentials as long as their application is approved by June 30, 2022. However, after June 30, standard eligibility rules will apply.
Step 2: Apply through the online portal
Comcast has an online application form for their Internet Essentials service. You can fill it out on your smartphone, desktop, or other electronic device. Note that you may receive approval instantly if you submit the application online with your supporting documents by scanning them in. You can visit apply.internetessentials.com to fill out the form online anytime.
Note: The application can only be completed electronically. Those who do not have access to the internet can visit their local library or an internet café to fill out the application. If necessary, you’re also able to save your application mid-way and come back to it later.
Step 3: Get approved
Once you have submitted the application online, Comcast will review and evaluate it. If you’re approved, Comcast will notify you by email, text message, or mail. However, if the company needs more information, they may request that you submit more documents proving your eligibility.
The fastest way to submit additional documents is to take photos of your documents with your phone and upload them to the online application.
Step 4: Start using the internet
Once you get approved, you’ll be contacted by the service provider. You will receive an internet modem and Wi-Fi router, along with step-by-step instructions for installation. In general, it will take five to seven business days for your internet connection to be completely up and running.
How does the Emergency Broadband Benefit apply?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an immediate need to ensure that families across the US had access to an internet connection. The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program was a special measure the Federal government put in place to spread broadband access to everyone, and especially to those who were in need of affordable internet services. Through this program, eligible families enjoy a temporary subsidy on their existing internet plans.
The EBB offers credits as high as $50 per month. This means Internet Essentials customers can get their internet connection at no cost. New customers will have to first enroll in the Internet Essentials program, whereas existing customers automatically qualify and simply need to sign up for EBB.
Comcast Internet Essentials FAQs
We’ve answered some common questions about Comcast Internet Essentials.
I want to know the status of my application but haven’t heard back from Comcast. What should I do?
If you have not received any status updates from Comcast, you can always check online at https://apply.internetessentials.com/. You can also call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376).
What internet speeds does Internet Essentials by Comcast offer?
At the moment, Comcast is serving all its current and new Internet Essentials customers with a download speed of 50Mbps and an upload speed of 10Mbps.
How can I apply for Comcast Internet Essentials?
You can apply for Internet Essentials by Comcast in any of the following ways:
- You can submit the online application. It takes only about ten minutes to do so if you do not have to submit any documents.
- You can also call Comcast’s helpline and their representatives can troubleshoot any issues you may be experiencing during the application process.
You can contact Comcast at any time from 8 AM to Midnight (EST), seven days a week.
I am moving to a different location. How do I transfer my existing Internet Essentials plan?
The good news is that Internet Essentials can move with you, and the process is very easy. You can call the Comcast helpline during business hours and a representative will assist you.
When I add my address online, the navigator cannot find it. What do I do?
It is possible that when you fill out the application online, the website is unable to locate your address. You should type your address and select the closest address that matches your current one. You can also try different variations of your address, such as using “St.” instead of spelling out “Street.”
How can I change the information on my account?
You cannot change your information online yourself. However, you can call Comcast at 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) if you need to:
- Add or change the name, email address or phone number on your account
- Add a new contact number or home security service
- Delete contact information
What equipment is included in the Internet Essentials plan?
Comcast offers the option to purchase a low-cost computer for around $150. Internet Essentials customers can choose between an internet-ready computer or a laptop that is equipped with software such as Norton Security Suite, Microsoft Windows 10 Professional, and Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010.
Can I become ineligible for the Comcast Internet Essentials program?
Your subscription will terminate if you no longer meet the eligibility criteria, fail to maintain your Comcast account in good standing, or if Comcast ceases to provide the Internet Essentials service to your location. You may also become ineligible if you fail to provide yearly proof of qualifying public assistance. Even if you aren’t eligible for the Internet Essentials program, you can continue to receive internet services from Comcast at regular rates.
Can I disconnect my Internet Essentials service?
You can cancel your service online anytime. There are no cancellation charges. However, you will have to return your equipment or pay for the full cost of your device.
Taking the next step
Thanks to the launch of Internet Essentials by Comcast, more and more American families have access to internet at affordable prices. As long as you live in a Comcast serviceable area and fulfill all the eligibility criteria, you can take advantage of the program by signing up online.
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*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 3/23/22.
Disclosure | Updater articles are based on our own data and research, independent from partner relationships. We are not compensated by partners for information and opinions presented here. Our Editorial Terms of Service can be found here.