January 12, 2018
Comcast's move to buy a provider of paid television and some internet to the Philadelphia Housing Authority could bring high-speed internet to thousands of low-income residents across the city.
A Jan. 5 press release from the Philly-based telecommunications giant touted the move as one that would bring internet access to people in about 9,000 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development households who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it.
Comcast said it plans to roll out X1, Xfinity Internet, Xfinity Voice and other services in the next year for about 9,000 PHA addresses serviced by Wilco.
Those residents will be able to take advantage of Comcast's Internet Essentials program, which offers broadband to low-income customers for $9.95 a month (plus tax).
In March 2016, Comcast announced it was extending the program to include public housing residents in Philly and three other cities. At the time, Comcast had serviced 5,000 HUD addresses here.
The company introduced the Internet Essentials program to help secure Federal Communications Commission approval to acquire NBCUniversal in 2011 and initially aimed to provide discounted internet service and equipment to families with school-aged children.
Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Bilotta said Friday that about 31,000 households across the city are enrolled in the program.
PHA has agreed to transfer Wilco's license agreement to Comcast, the company said.
PHA developments receiving the upgrade include Bartram Village in South Philadelphia, Johnson Homes in North Philadelphia, West Park Apartments in West Philadelphia and Emlen Arms in Mount Airy, Philly.com reported.
Wilco has offered television services to PHA housing since the 1970s. Its president and founder, Will Daniel, will assume the role as Chairman of the Board of Wilco, which will continue to operate under current leadership and provide residential and commercial security, surveillance solutions and other services, Comcast said.
“We are happy to reach an agreement with Comcast that will now offer PHA residents the ability to be able to reap the benefits of its Internet Essentials program as well as many other advanced technologies,” Daniel said in a statement.