Friday, March 28, 2014

Internet Essentials $9.99 per month cable internet is available in Boston

My family and I signed up for Internet Essentials a few months ago, and so far we are quite happy with it.

The signup process was a bit ridiculous; I had to call and speak to someone for a screening to determine I was eligible, then they said they would mail me a contract to send back. First they sent me a Comcast bill for $0.00 and a bunch of pages of fine print, which I thought was the contract but wasn’t sure how to fill it out or send it back. I called and talked to someone and they said that wasn’t the contract, and the contract takes 7-10 business days to arrive, which 1) is kind of ridiculous 2) had already elapsed. They said they could resend it by mail or e-mail, and that e-mail would take 3-5 business days (WTF?), and that doing either would invalidate the first one because it would be a new copy with new numbers on it. Wow, and they’re not even a government agency. So I waited a couple more days for the mailed contract to arrive, which it did. I had the option of mailing or faxing it back, and fortunately, I’m one of the approximately six individuals in the United States who faxes things. After faxing it back, I had to wait 3-5 business days and then call them. To see if they got the fax. Right. I did, they did, and they UPSed me the Comcast setup kit with the modem and everything in a couple of days.

I discovered I didn’t have cable coming into my unit, so I called and arranged to have it installed. The installation scheduling was done through the general Comcast office rather than part of Internet Essentials specifically, so the customer service was standard-issue crappy customer service instead of holy-ridiculous-poor-people customer service, and they sent someone out the next morning. They quoted me $50 for the install, which was fine with me since I would be saving immensely on internet. They ended up refunding the $50 charge, noting it was “charged in error,” which I assume means Internet Essentials customers aren’t meant to pay it. Once it was installed, I set it up with no problem using the pamphlet that shipped with the modem.

The service is slower than many of the Comcast packages (5 Mbps), but it’s certainly sufficient for our purposes and is fast enough for watching Hulu, streaming Pandora, downloading things, and so forth without any issues. Eligibility requires proof that your child is enrolled in school or is homeschooled and is eligible for free lunch. I don’t know how they determine this if the local school provides universal free lunch as ours does. They did say that proof of Food Stamps eligibility works for homeschool or private school students. They also have computers available for $149.99, though they don’t say what kind and I couldn’t readily find anything doing a cursory google search. Naturally, they’ve done some serious SEO, so everything that comes up is press releases and official information, not, say, bloggers saying what kind of computer they got.