Six years after launching it’s Internet Essentials program, Comcast announced a critical milestone: more than four million low-income Americans now have access to high-speed Internet.
Created with the goal of increasing digital access and opportunity, Internet Essentials provides eligible applicants with low-cost broadband ($9.95/month), affordable internet-ready computers ($150), and access to in-person, print, and online digital literacy training (free). The program is targeted toward families with young children enrolled in SNAP (the supplemental nutrition assistance program), those who receive housing assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, senior citizens receiving public assistance, and community college students in select locations.
“When we started this program six years ago, we never imagined four million low-income Americans would benefit from it,” said David Cohen, Comcast’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer. “We also never would have reached this milestone without our many dedicated nonprofit partners, elected officials, educators, employees, and advocates who were all united by the belief that the Internet is essential, not only to compete in the 21st century economy, but also to be connected to loved ones and the world. While this milestone is a wonderful moment to celebrate, it also inspires all of us to keep going to connect even more families to all that the Internet has to offer for education, jobs, healthcare, news, information, and entertainment.”
As Internet Essential strives to connect more people and maintain its standing as “the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed internet adoption program for low-income Americans,” Comcast has also announced three new program enhancements:
- An increase in service speeds, for the fourth time in six years, from 10/1 Mbps (megabits per second) to 15/2 Mbps, to accommodate the most requested feature from customers;
- Expanded out of home access to Comcast’s growing network of Xfinity’s 18 million wifi hot spots; and
- An expanded pilot program for low-income senior citizens from five citizens and metropolitan areas to 12.
To reach the one million households that Internet Essentials currently serves today, Comcast partnered with 9,000 community-based organizations, libraries, school districts, government agencies, and federal, state, and local elected officials. The company has spent about $350 million in cash and in-kind support to help fund digital literacy programs; sold more than 65,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each; and broadcast more than 10 million public service announcements, valued at more than $120 million.
While Comcast is “thrilled” at the progress its made in combating the digital digital, there’s still work to be done said Cohen. “Far too many families remain on the wrong side of the digital divide. Connecting these families remains our core mission and has become part of our organizational DNA. Our goal remains to ensure that all households, irrespective of their income or the zip code in which they live, can benefit from the life-changing resources and opportunities that having home Internet provides.”