updated 12:20 pm EST, Mon December 27, 2010
Comcast tells FCC NBC deal brings cheap broadband
Comcast in a letter to the FCC (PDF) has proposed that it might offer very low-cost broadband Internet access as part of the approval of its NBC merger. The company suggested that it would give access to its usually unpublished Economy speeds for $10 per month to any household making $20,000 or less per year. They would skip installation fees and could even get a refurbished netbook or similar device as well as computer training.
Expansion would be a focus, as it would pass 400,000 new homes over the next three years. Other conditions would simply involve preserving "hyperlocal" content on the web as well as public access channels and TV.
The promises are relatively mild and wouldn't necessarily have much impact. Any household that would qualify would both have to be in a position to afford $120 per year and to have at least one child in the No Student Left Behind program. As such, childless and empty-nest couples as well as singles would be forced to pay regular prices that, even at promotional pricing, are twice as expensive.
The extra reach would be comparatively insignificant. Comcast currently has about 16.7 million Internet subscribers and would expand its reach by just 2.3 percent over the next three years, making the promise effectively the result of its existing deployment plans rather than any special gesture.
FCC officials haven't commented on whether they would accept the proposal or extend the conditions, but most of its terms are believed to center around net neutrality and fair distribution of video rather than providing broadband to low income families or to more homes. [via BBR]