Comcast is offering an Internet plan at $9.95 per month for qualifying low-income families.

The media and communications giant's Internet Essentials plan provides Internet access at speeds of 1.5 Mbps (megabits per second) and also offers other qualifying customers a netbook computer for $149.99 when signing up for the service.

To qualify, families must live in an area covered by Comcast and have at least one child who receives free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program.

The $10 Internet plan comes after the Federal Communications Commission ordered Comcast to offer  affordable Internet access for low-income families following its purchase of NBC Universal in January.

Comcast, a company spokesman said Wednesday, had already been working on offering a low-income program prior to approval of the NBC Universal deal. That program has evolved into the Internet Essentials plan, which Comcast began offering in Chicago in late May.

“The Internet has the potential to be a great equalizer and a life-changing technology," said Davi Cohen, Comcast Executive Vice President, in a statement. "Internet Essentials will help level the playing field for low-income families."

Along with the $9.95 low monthly rate and the $149.99 netbook, the plan also offers qualifying families access to free Internet training and promises "No price increases, no activation fees and no equipment rental fees," according to a Comcast Web page.

Customers can stay on the Internet Essentials plan as long as their child continues to receive free lunches.

To learn more about this program, visit

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