With the start of the new school year, Comcast is re-launching Internet Essentials, the nation’ largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. This marks the programs third year, and in the 22 months since the program was first launched, more than 220,000 families, benefitting an estimated 900,000 low-income Americans nationwide, now have a broadband connection at home. This includes 6,300 families and more than 25,000 individuals in Oregon and SW Washington.
Comcast employees are handing out backpacks at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Portland as part of the Tools For Schools Program with Schoolhouse Supplies, and this is one in a series of back to school events Comcast is hosting in 23 states across the country to raise visibility about bridging the digital divide in America and connecting more families to the Internet.
“Thanks to community leaders, nonprofit organizations and schools nationwide, more than 220,000 families or 900,000 low-income Americans, and 6,300 families and 25,000 individuals in Oregon and SW Washington, now have the opportunity to use the power of the Internet at home to get ahead in work, education, and life, just by doing things online that many of us take for granted, such as completing homework, applying for a job, researching a health condition, or paying a bill,” says Rodrigo Lopez, Regional Vice President for the Oregon and SW Washington region. “Together we are making real and significant progress in closing the digital divide here locally and across the country.”
The momentum of Internet Essentials continues to increase. Since the program’s launch in August 2011, Internet Essentials has enrolled upwards of 50,000 new families every six months. In the last six months alone, 70,000 new families have signed up. In addition, Comcast has distributed more than 18,000 subsidized computers; trained nearly 20,000 people; publicized the program in more than 4,000 school districts and more than 30,000 schools; broadcast nearly 2 million public service announcements and partnered with nearly 7,000 community based organizations, agencies, and officials to help spread the word about the program.
2013 Internet Essentials Enhancements:
To increase enrollment and continue to help close the digital divide in America, Comcast continues to enhance Internet Essentials. This year Comcast has:
• Increased Speed For the second time in two years, Comcast has increased its broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers up to 5 Mbps downstream and up to 1 Mbps upstream. On September 1st, Comcast will have more than tripled the download speeds for Internet Essentials customers since the programs launch.
• Streamlined Enrollment Comcast has further streamlined the enrollment process by expanding the instant approval process for families whose students attend schools where 70 percent or more of the students are eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program.
• Expanded Eligibility Comcast has expanded program eligibility criteria for the second time, to include parochial, private, cyberschool, and homeschooled students. Now, nearly 2.6 million families nationwide are eligible for Internet Essentials.
• Created an Online Application Tool On InternetEssentials.com and InternetBasico.com, it is now easier and faster for a family to apply for Internet Essentials. This convenient online request form is available in English and Spanish and can be accessed through any Internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone. It can be used by families on computers at community centers, local libraries or at a friends to request an application.
• Introduced Internet Essentials Opportunity Cards Our community partners are now able to help connect low-income families to the Internet by purchasing Opportunity Cards that can be used toward the cost of paying for Internet Essentials service.
• In Oregon and SW Washington, Comcast is working with schools and community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training.
Internet Essentials from Comcast is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. It provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150; and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person. A household is eligible to participate if it has at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), is located where Comcast offers Internet service, has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days, and does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment. Families that enroll in the program can continue to enjoy the service as long as one child eligible to participate in the NSLP is living in the household.