If you are reading this post chances are you enjoy internet access and likely have broadband at home. In fact, 58% of United States homes have high speed internet connections (see this PDF from the International Telecommunications Union 2013 report) and this access—whether fixed broadband or mobile—is no longer optional. It’s become a primary way for an accelerating number of us to connect, socialize, find jobs, signup for services, access knowledge and a whole lot more.
Fortunately there is an affordable program to connect low-income families (with students at home) to the internet for just under $10 per month. A program now in its third year, Internet Essentials is delivered by Comcast, costs only $9.95 plus tax per month, provides access to a low-cost computer (a laptop for $149.99 plus tax); and has online training.
Undoubtedly this program was a key “give” on Comcast’s part during the negotiation when they were vying to acquire NBC Universal, but the numbers of families who have signed up nationwide are over 220,000! Of that there are already 5,200 families in Minnesota benefitting from Internet Essentials and let’s hope more signup and participate this year.
220,000 LOW INCOME FAMILIES TO HIGH SPEED INTERNET AT HOME
Comcast Celebrates Year Three of National Program to Bridge the Digital Divide
More than 5,200 Twin Cities Families Have Enrolled in Internet Essentials
St. Paul, Minn. – Sept. 12, 2013 – With the start of the new school year, Comcast is launching the third year of its Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. As a result of the first two years of the Internet Essentials program, more than 220,000 families, benefitting an estimated 900,000 low-income Americans nationwide, now have a broadband connection at home.
More than 5,200 Minnesota families currently participate in the Internet Essentials program and 300 families have joined in recent months.
Today at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul, Comcast along with civic and community leaders will kick off the program’s third year.
Thursday, Sept. 12, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Children’s Museum of Minnesota
10 West Seventh Street, St. Paul, Minn., 55102
The company is hosting similar community events in 23 states across the country to raise visibility about bridging the digital divide in America and connecting more families to the Internet.
“This type of fast Internet access is absolutely essential for students to do their homework and for parents to stay in touch with teachers and information. It also supports so many activities that we take for granted, such as finding and applying for jobs, researching a health condition, or paying a bill,” said Mary Beth Schubert, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Comcast Twin Cities Region.
“This event is about continuing to build momentum and raise awareness among the families that can benefit from the Internet Essentials program. It also is about thanking partners in the community that are helping us to make progress toward narrowing the digital divide in America,” added Schubert.
Comcast Enhances Internet Essentials Program for 2013
To increase enrollment and continue to help close the digital divide in America, Comcast continues to enhance Internet Essentials. This year the program includes:
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 program’s 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 friend’s 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 Minnesota, Comcast is working with community-based organizations in Minneapolis and St. Paul to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. These organizations include: Neighborhood House and the Hmong American Partnership.
Internet Essentials Gains Momentum
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.
About Internet Essentials:
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.
For more information about Internet Essentials visit InternetEssentials.com for English and InternetBasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at InternetEssentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.
About Comcast Corporation:
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates 30 news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.
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