Regarding: “ Comcast makes its case for Time Warner merger” (May 1, Page A11): Comcast says that its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable will mean more accessible Internet for low-income families. We sincerely hope that will be the case. But Comcast has to work harder in the San Joaquin Valley to help eligible residents sign up for Comcast Internet Essentials, its $9.95 a month offer for families with children eligible for free or reduced lunch.
By Comcast’s accounting, the program has reached just 300,000 U.S. households, 11 percent of eligible families in three years. In the Fresno area – the only San Joaquin Valley metro area for which Comcast makes numbers public – 68,354 households are eligible. Yet, the company has signed up just 9,250 households in three years, 13 percent of eligible families. It will take another decade at that rate just to reach half of the eligible families.
Such lackluster subscription rates reveal that Comcast needs to increase marketing and work with more local groups so low-income San Joaquin Valley families can get connected to affordable Internet. The law says federal regulators must find the Comcast acquisition is a public benefit.
It’s time to hold Comcast accountable for improving its performance.
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CAROL WHITESIDE, Modesto
BARBARA O’CONNOR, San Francisco
board members, California Emerging Technology Fund