When Politic365 first reported on Comcast Internet Essentials one could have only guessed the impact the program would have on low-income students and their families. Comcast Internet Essentials is a broadband deployment program designed to help provide affordable Internet access, computer equipment, and digital literacy training to eligible families. In a very short time it has become the largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program in America.
Participating families have received XFINITY Economy Internet Service for $9.95 per month with no activation or equipment rental charges, a voucher to be used at a Comcast partner store such as Walmart to get a $149 notebook computer and access to online, in print, and in person digital literacy training.
As of December 21, 2011, the program had already connected more than 41,000 homes to the Internet (an estimated 80,000 children and 160,000 low-income Americans), most for the first time. Originally, in order to be eligible to participate households had to have at least one child receiving free school lunch.
Comcast has since expanded eligibility requirements in creasing the number of eligible households, making it easier for them to sign up for the program, and enhancing the attractiveness of the service.
Now the program has extended its reach to include families with children eligible to receive ‘reduced’ price lunches. The change will add an additional 300,000 households in the Comcast service area. That’s a total of 2.3 million eligible families.
The service has improved as well. Previously, Comcast offered downstream speeds of 1.5 Mbps, but has not ramped up to 3 Mbps on the downstream and 768 kbps on the upstream.
The work Comcast is doing with Internet Essentials is directly addressing goals laid out in the National Broadband Plan.
Politic365 Game Changer, Antonio “Tony” Williams, Director of Government Affairs at Comcast, has been instrumental in implementing Internet Essentials. He had this to say about the intersection of politics and policy:
“Politics and policy, not to mention good business, should be about improving our lives by cultivating the best in our communities. With Internet Essentials we are doing just that by putting policy into practice and translating theory into action to close the digital divide, get more low-income Americans connected to the Internet, and hopefully level the playing field through technology.”