Comcast Internet EssentialsAs has been discussed previously, Comcast offers an “Internet Essentials” program that has been put in place since Comcast announced their acquisition of NBC and needed some good publicity.

The program has been a monumental flop with few, if anyone, signing up due to the absurd restrictions that make it almost impossible to qualify for. Applicants were required to qualify for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), have a zero balance towards Comcast, not currently have any Comcast broadband service, and can’t have had service in the last ninety days.

CenturyLink has joined Comcast in offering this type of program though it comes with similar restrictions and therefore offers few the ability to join the program. But as I looked over CenturyLink’s application form for the Internet Essentials program, it really sinks it how sneaky CenturyLink makes it for those applying.

First, let’s take a look at how CenturyLink advertises the plan.

CenturyLinkOfferSo, the plan is $9.95 a month. Now, to be fair to CenturyLink, at least the tax and fees line is readable unlike other companies who bury it in a font that just can not be read without a magnifying glass.

But moving forward, look at how little income that you must earn (assuming you don’t already qualifying for several federal programs such as the National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program, Medicaid, and others).

CenturyLinkOfferIncomeSo, assuming you barely make a living, let’s move onto the “fees” that CenturyLink attaches to the program.

ModemEquipmentFeesSo, either pay $100 up front to purchase a modem or pay $7 a month to rent a modem (although the first year of renting a modem is free).

HSISpeedsNote that the monthly fee does not include the $1.99/month fee for a “broadband recovery fee.” Also take note that the price goes up to $14.95 a month if you continue using the program after a year.

CLinkInstallOptionMost will do the free self-install but some (like my parents) would want and need to have someone install the service. Here, you can be ripped off charged between $60-$100 for an install from CenturyLink.

RequiredFeesCenturyLink will still charge you $14.99 if you try a “free” self install. Let’s also not forget the $19.95 activation fee.

Therefore, if you make little financially and sign up for this service, you will need the following

  • Monthly Fee – ($9.95 for first year + $1.99 monthly recovery fee)
  • Modem – Purchased ($99), Rent ($7 monthly after a free year)
  • Installation – Self (Free), Basic Tech ($59.99), Networking Tech ($99.99)
  • Required Activation Fee – ($19.95)
  • Modem Equipment Shipping/Handling – ($14.99)

So, let’s assume that someone signs up for the service using a rented modem and free install. His/her monthly bill will be between $11.94 – $18.94 depending on how long you are in the program. His first bill will be much higher with an overall bill totaling $46.88 (at the least if you try a free install).

To many, this may not seem like a big deal but to those making the required minimal salary, it is in fact a big deal.