With Internet prices at an all time high, some low-income families cannot provide a broadband connection for their school-aged children who may rely on the Internet to ensure success at school.
Comcast has offered a solution for families with children eligible for free and reduced lunch—a high speed Internet for only $9.95 a month, comparable to a plan that usually costs $30.00 a month. With a broadband connection, a low-income student has free access to academic tools such as Google Scholar and TED-talks, aimed to inspire curiosity and foster learning. Students without consistent Internet access often face an insurmountable roadblock to success.
That an otherwise uninspired student coming from a low-income environment be deprived of possibility is viewed by some as a complete disaster—a depravation of a human right. When parents can no longer give advice on homework, the 21st century student turns to the Internet for an answer. A good education is on the path to upward mobility and the face of education is quickly evolving from face time learning to screen time learning.
One concern, however, arises regarding Comcast, one of the largest ISPs (Internet service providers) in America. Comcast’s early and widespread influence has established it as a “natural monopoly.” The natural monopoly argument is evidenced by the fact that there can only be a certain number of telephone wires, water pipes and electrical cables running in and out of a certain area.
The danger in trusting a large corporation like Comcast with a philanthropic endeavor such as offering an Internet service for low-income families comes from a corporation’s inherent desire to capitalize. In 2012, 11.7 million children were eligible for free lunch. For Comcast, that could mean 11.7 million new customers, customers that could not otherwise afford Internet access if not for a low cost provider. Is it morally responsible to trust Comcast to keep prices low for families who need it? Is it morally responsible to trust a company with capitalism as the driving force of operations?