Comcast's Internet Essentials Continues to Gain Momentum, Connects More Than 220,000 Families or 900,000 Low-Income Americans to the Power of the Internet at Home
Comcast and Houston Community and Civic Leaders Kick Off Year Three of National Program to Bridge the Digital Divide
Nearly 11,000 Houston-area Families Have Enrolled in Internet Essentials
HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- With the start of the new school year, Comcast is re-launching Internet Essentials, the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. Comcast Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations Filemon Lopez, along with civic and community leaders, today kicked off the program's third year and announced that, in about 22 months, more than 220,000 families, benefitting an estimated 900,000 low-income Americans nationwide, now have a broadband connection at home. This includes nearly 11,000 families in the Greater Houston area.
Students from Energized for STEM Academy participate in a digital literacy workshop during the Internet Essentials year three kick-off event. (Photo: Business Wire)
Today's event in Houston 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 and schools nationwide, more than 220,000 families or 900,000 low-income Americans 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," said Lopez. "Together, with cities like Houston, we are making real and significant progress in closing the digital divide in America."
In Houston today, Comcast hosted an event at Energized for STEM Academy to create further awareness of Internet Essentials and educate and engage civic and community leaders around the issue of digital adoption and literacy. More than 400 students participated in digital literacy training workshops that included Internet Safety and Effective Use of Social Media. Comcast also announced a partnership to open four new computer labs for students at the southeast and southwest campuses of Energized for STEM Academy.
"I'm proud to stand here today and say the City of Houston is helping the nation close the digital divide," said Ralph Martinez, Senior Vice President for Comcast in Houston. "But we still have work to do. There are still too many low-income families in Houston who can benefit from getting online at home. So, I'm urging parents, educators, community leaders and other government officials to press on with this effort, spread the word and help increase broadband adoption."
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 first six months of 2013, 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 we have:
- 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. The company has 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 Houston, Comcast is working with over 500 schools and more than 50 community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. Some of these organizations include: YMCA of Greater Houston, American Diabetes Association, Change Happens!, Neighborhood Centers Inc., Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and Workforce Solutions Department of Labor.
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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