Tag Archives: Local 100 United Labor Unions

Back and Forth with Comcast and Small Progress to Date

Mayor Hays of North Little Rock

New Orleans   Our coalition has now sent a letter to the FCC asking for hearings and meetings in Houston and Philadelphia to try to focus Comcast on actually delivering on the requirements that it provide low cost Internet access to lower income families in its service areas. Comcast’s strategy is clear.  They don’t want to do real outreach to the poor, they just want to do it with politicians where the props come easy and the donations slide smoothly into their pockets, producing lots of proclamations and damned little Internet.

My favorite response which is so typical of their strategy came from a letter to the Arkansas Times, a weekly paper based in Little Rock which had been following the efforts spearheaded by Local 100 United Labor Unions and Arkansas Community Organizations in that city.  They obviously wheedle the Mayor of North Little Rock Patrick H. Hays into writing a letter to the paper offering them ridiculously effusive praise.  Unfortunately the math in the letter about how good a job Comcast is doing is typical Comcast “pat my own back” overkill.  As Hays drools his praise he comments that “40,000 nationwide have taken advantage” of the program (unaudited figures from Comcast, and highly suspect) and further he understands “that Comcast looks forward to multiplying those numbers 10,000 fold, and I eagerly anticipate many of those additions being from Central Arkansas.”

I have no doubt that Mayor Hays is hard at it in North Little Rock and doing one heckuva job, but next time he decides to shill for Comcast he ought to check their math before putting it on his letterhead.  40,000 times 10000 equal 400,000,000 people!!!  Mayor, we don’t have that many people living in the USA yet.   We have perhaps 313,000,000 and change according to the world population clock maintained by the U.S. Census.  And, perhaps Comcast misled Mayor Hays, but they really don’t provide all of the Internet in the USA, though I’m sure they would like to do so!  Sure hope some of those are in fact in Central Arkansas, since we sure can’t find many getting Internet Essentials yet.

Our coalition sent out an op-ed in response to the huge profits being recorded by Comcast.  They can do so much better.  Perhaps not as good as Mayor Hays believes, but maybe as good as we and the FCC require!

Comcast Internet Essentials Program Must Be Successful

Recently the New York Times reported on Comcast’s rising profits while families like mine are still waiting for Comcast to fill their promise of closing the digital divide through the Internet Essentials Program. In September of 2011, Comcast rolled out a national program to sign up families with children eligible for the free lunch program with $9.95 Internet, a computer and training. A few weeks ago they released their first public statement that reported that in Philadelphia only 463 or .3% of eligible families have enrolled in this program in their own hometown. In Houston they have enrolled 2000 out of 400,000 eligible families or .05% of eligible families.

It was reported last week that Comcast’s net income soared 45% to $1.3 billion because of the addition of NBC Universal, the same merger that requires Comcast to substantially increase broadband adoption in low income homes throughout Comcast’s service area. Today the Internet is an essential part of daily life, especially for my children. In January I attempted to apply for the Internet Essentials program but never received the application. This program is not working and Comcast is clearly not substantially increasing enrollment.

In Houston and Little Rock Local 100 United Unions represents Head Start workers and I work there and am eligible even under Comcast’s restrictive guidelines, but I still can’t get access to the program and get nothing but contradictory information.

Comcast must take their commitment to the FCC and to families on the other side of the digital divide seriously and take the large profits they are reporting and invest them in the successful implementation of the Internet Essentials program so it works for my family, my community and my city.



Comcast, Internet, Arrogance, and Free Speech

New Orleans    Another day, another dollar in Comcast land where it turns out in their view of the world, no promises need be kept, customers should pay and not be heard, government is only for them, not for the people, and if they say it’s good, then, damn, it must be good:  Comcast-in-wonderland!

In Shreveport as Local 100 United Labor Union members pushed Comcast for action and access to the Internet for our Head Start parents, TV cameras were rolling and they were “not happy” as one of our members reported.

In Philadelphia where they had promised that there would be a detailed response to demands that our partner, ACTION United had brought forward in behalf of our coalition two weeks previously, yesterday came and went with no response from the company.   Houston Local 100 members got the same response from two Comcast governmental relations guys in their meeting on Friday.  Little Rock is waiting for its meeting soon.  We are on a “need to know” basis!

In Philly and Pittsburgh, members of ACTION United are taking the Comcast issue forward with a “baloney” sandwich picnic in their honor today.

City staffers in Pittsburgh sympathetic to our demands that Comcast lower the digital divide forwarded us an email from the local Comcast executive which is priceless in its arrogance and, frankly, lack of good sense about the basics involved in a democracy including the freedom of speech for folks like us who want to really see their Internet program work.  Somehow, Pittsburgh Comcast’s “Frank” seems to believe that if Comcast says “internet essentials” is a “great program,” then that ought to be enough said without worrying about the fact that no one is getting the Internet and virtually no one knows about the program.  Ol’ Frank wants to pretend that’s all on the shoulders of the Pittsburgh School System, because they haven’t “reported any complaints.”

Frank, ol’ buddy, first it’s not the job of the public schools to shill your so-called “internet essentials” program for you, and, secondly, if virtually no one has heard of your so-called “great” program, how would they complain?  And, who would they complain to?  Well, Frank, they would do exactly what they are doing and complain to people and organizations just like us who are committed to making sure that Comcast delivers on their program to provide low cost internet access.  And, despite your request to the Pittsburgh City Council members that they simply “not listen” to us as you indicated in your email, we’ve got news for you, they actually believe that it’s important to listen and respond to citizens (you might call them customers if you cared to actually really provide lower income families with internet!).

Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to Frank’s own words drawn from his email:

I have communicated with the Pgh Public Schools yesterday and they told me they have not received any complaints about the program.  We [Comcast?] ask that you do not [Frank’s bold!] engage with this group [ACTION United] and if any questions need to be answered please follow up with me.  Internet Essentials is a great program and benefits all families whose children are on the Free lunch program whether they are a Comcast customer or not.

The whole email is a classic, and, personally, I would simply love [my emphasis!] to know how Frank believes that this program currently benefits “all families…whether they are a Comcast customer or not.”

But, answers to those questions are unlikely to be available today in Pittsburgh even to members of ACTION United; since Frank also made it clear he was not going to actually show up at the City Council meeting.  Oh, no, not Frank, he’s a cable guy with Comcast.  He signed off saying, he’ll “watch on TV.”

Hello, Comcast!  Let us introduce you to America.  It’s a different country than you imagined it might be!  Live up to your word.  Provide real access to the internet for the poor, and agree to be accountable to your promises.  Hear our demands and “engage” with us directly!