California Forum

Another View: Criticism of Comcast low-cost Internet effort is off-base

Delaine Eastin’s attack on Comcast’s Internet Essentials is seriously off-base (“Make Net access for poor a must for Comcast”; Viewpoints, Sept. 14).

Eastin woefully understates the program’s success. Enrollment is up more than 32 percent since last year, reaching 46,250 families. That’s a whopping 186,000 Californians – people like Libier Gonzalez, who used her Internet Essentials home Internet to win a new job. Now, her three kids can also do their homework at home.

Eastin puzzlingly claims the program is “plagued” with troubles, but offers no evidence of that claim other than to assert the obvious – that some families are still not enrolled.

But no one expected this single program to do overnight what no other broadband adoption effort in 20 years has done: achieve universal adoption.

This straw-man argument is inconsistent with what other community leaders like the NAACP have said: that the program is the “biggest experiment ever” to close the digital divide.

I can tell you from experience it’s hard to bring people across the digital divide. It takes a full-spectrum effort with compelling content, affordable hardware and training, and quality low-cost service. That’s what Internet Essentials brings to the table, and the fact that not all eligible families have enrolled seems a rather vapid criticism.

If we want more of our kids online, we need more companies to create programs of their own rather than nitpicking the few companies showing leadership on the issue.