Update: Comcast-NBC Universal deal to add only 2.4 percent more internet access in U.S.
Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/08/MahurinPointing_Thumb5.jpgThe Comcast’s acquisition of a controlling stack in NBC Universal, approved on Tuesday by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), included a stipulation for Comcast to increase broadband access to low-income households.
Figures released by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies have revealed that Comcast’s altruistic offer will provide 2.5 million low-income households with broadband, with the price tag set as $10 a month.
Approximately 63.5 percent of U.S. homes currently have access to the internet — under Comcast’s new provision that figure will rise to 65.9 percent, a 2.4 percent increase. Within the low-income camp, the increase is a slightly more notable 7 percent.
Increased access to the internet is increasingly accepted by demographic analysts as an indication of socio-economic advancement, and an essential tool to full participate in today’s economy and society. Joint research by National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Economics and Statistics Administration revealed strong socio-economic patterns in broadband distribution: 94 percent of homes with an income over $100,000 have access to broadband, compared with only 36 percent of homes earning less than $25,000. Education levels also influence the distribution of broadband with 84 percent of household with at least one college graduate having access to broadband, whereas only 28 percent of homes with no high school graduates are online.
But Comcast’s offer to increase access to the internet for America’s low-income population remains an overwhelmingly tiny step within an acquisition that confirms, and guarantees, Camcast’s position as the nation’s largest internet and cable provider.
Comcast’s initially voluntary promise to serve low-income Americans was made a compulsory part of the deal by the FCC — whose role is to protect the public’s interest and play arbitrator between media conglomerates in such deals. FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps remained outspokenly against the deal and warning that the merging of the two media giants put “new media on a road traditional media should never have taken- [further eroding] diversity, localism and competition.”