Headline July 13, 2015/ ''' GET SCHOOLED - GET CONNECTED '''



HERE IN PAKISTAN, only some, year and half ago, in the province of Punjab, we had this very important, and even a splendid scheme-

Of giving away free laptops, to supposedly deserving students.

Just few weeks back, I checked with 17 recipients of these laptops, to determine how they had benefited. Only three, had had the natural means of full time Internet access. Others just frittered away the tool.

Hundreds of students, every single day, lounge around the McDonald's here in Jinnah Park, Rawalpindi, Pakistan,   -laptops slung over their shoulders. I asked the management to put the Wi-Fi on and give them access........?!! 

David L. Cohen stood on the stage in the gymnasium of Alcott College Prep high school here one very recent afternoon, holding up one of the dozen laptops they were giving away to the roaring crowd.

The scene was like a prep rally for the Internet; Students waved posters emblazoned with Comcast's logo and the hashtag #InternetEssentials. 
HE HADN'T slept all the night before, he said, but made the trip to Chicago to promote the company's Internet Essentials program:
''Which Offers families with low-income broadband service for $10 a month.''

Comcast has trumpeted the program as a success story and example of how it can live up to the conditions imposed as part of its big acquisitions   -the NBCUniversal takeover four years ago and now its proposed takeover of the Time Warner Cable-

Which would combine the two largest cable operators in the country. Other broadband providers do not offer a similar program.

Critics, however, call  Internet Essentials  a public relations stunt that failed to deliver on its promise, with restrictive qualifications, limited reach and very poor service.

**COMCAST committed to making the program available to  2.5 million low-income households. The company announced in March that the program had connected 450,000 families   -or about 18% of eligible household.**

[Comcast officials say that the population is difficult to reach and that getting people to sign up for the service has been harder than they thought].

''Regulators were sold a bill of goods,'' said John Bergmayer, a senior staff lawyer at  Public Knowledge,  -a consumer advocacy group that has criticised the effectiveness of  Internet Essentials and is urging the regulators to block  the Time Warner Cable deal.

''I'd be curious whether they spent more time marketing in D.C. to policy makers than to people who qualify for the program.''

Lawmakers, public interest groups and corporations now urge the regulators determining the fate the  Comcast-Time  Warner Cable tie-up to scrutinize Comcast's record with the Internet Essentials program as well as its broader history of compliance for the NBCUniversal acquisition.

Critics of the proposed merger say that Comcast's attitude toward compliance paints picture of an already huge company that uses its heft to its full advantage.

They argue that the company's deal for Time Warner Cable should be blocked outright   -rather than passed with conditions   -because regulators do not have the resources to police the company and monitor whether Comcast has complied.

[Others say the company's failure to promote a stand-alone broadband service that is not tied to a television package, making it hard for people to find out about it or sign up for it].

Even if they did,  the punishments are minuscule; for instance, Comcast, which had for more than  $8 billion in profits in 2014, was fined $800,000  in 2012 after the F.C.C. found that it had violated a condition to provide an affordable stand-alone broadband-service.

While Comcast offered the service, it did not actively promote it, the F.C.C, found.

''I don't think the history of conditions is exactly a fabled story,'' said Michael Copps, a former Democratic member of the F.C.C. and a special adviser to Common Cause.

''I don't see any conditions that would make the Comcast Time Warner Cable deal serve the public interest.''

The Internet Essentials program, he said, is much more than public relations move or negotiating tactic. It is so much deeper and more important than anything to do with any transaction, he said.

'' If people came up and said you are doing this because it is important to get the Time Warner Cable deal done, I would look at you like you came from Mars.''

With respectful dedication to the Leaders of the  Developing World. See Ya all Your Excellencies, on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Reality And Imagination '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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