Comcast's most affordable internet plan just got a big speed boost

Those on Comcast Internet Essentials are getting some good news, with the ISP's low-income plan doubling its speed for the same price. Launched in 2011, and then extended indefinitely in 2014, Internet Essentials had until now been offering 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.

That was actually a speed boost, with Comcast having boosted the rates users could get from the low-cost plan back in March 2020. All the same, despite the changes, the ISP had faced criticism from some that its speeds just weren't sufficient for the current environment of working from home and forced home-schooling, during the pandemic.

Now, both new and existing Internet Essentials customers are getting another bump. Download rates will now be up to 50 Mbps, while upstream rates will be up to 5 Mbps. Pricing remains the same, however, at $9.95 per month.

Comcast says that the new speeds won't require any extra effort for customers in order to enable them. Instead, they'll be rolled out automatically, nationwide, from March 1. In addition, you still get xFi and xFi Advanced Security – with various malware protections and parental controls – bundled in free, too.

How do you qualify for the Internet Essentials plan?

While Comcast says it currently has connected 8 million people to Internet Essentials – over 90-percent of which had no home internet connection beforehand – not just everyone can sign up to the plan. Priced at $9.95 per month, plus tax, there's no term contract and no credit check required, and Comcast throws in an xFi Wireless Gateway with WiFi and ethernet support.

To be eligible, unsurprisingly you'll also have to live in an area where Comcast has internet service available. There's a location checker available to look that up.

Those who can sign up to the plan include families who qualify for programs like the National School Lunch Program, housing assistance, Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, and others. You cannot have had Comcast internet service within the last 90 days, though if you still owe money to Comcast for prior services then you may still be eligible for Internet Essentials, a change the company made during the coronavirus pandemic.

New sign-ups currently get two months of free service, and Comcast says you should get a self-installation kit within 5-7 days of signing up. In the meantime, there's access to Xfinity WiFi hotspots. Comcast also makes low-cost computers – including desktops and laptops – available to subscribers, selling refurbished models with varying specifications. They're priced from $149.99 plus tax.