Aug 12, 2013

Internet Essentials Connects More than 220,000 Low-Income Families to the Power of the Internet

As we embark on year three of Internet Essentials, the largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program in America, I am particularly struck by the momentum the program has created.  Today, at our national back-to-school kick-off event in Miami, Comcast stood side by side with our community partners to announce that in its first 22 months, we have connected more than 220,000 families - nearly 900,000 low-income Americans - to the power of the Internet in their homes, most for the very first time.  To put that in perspective, 900,000 people is about the size of Jacksonville, FL or San Francisco, CA – or the combined populations of Miami and Atlanta!  When you are successful in connecting the equivalent of entire cities to the Internet, you know you are making real and meaningful progress to help close the digital divide in America.

And our momentum continues to grow.  In the last six months, we signed up 70,000 new families to the program – that’s 10,000 more families than we enrolled in the prior six month period – and more than the number of families enrolled in the previous two periods we have reported.

In addition, Comcast announced we will increase the broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers for the second time in two years.  Starting on September 1, we are increasing the download speed to 5 Mbps and the upload speed to 1 Mbps.  This is triple the download speed than when we first started the program in 2011 when we offered a 1.5 Mbps connection, and a 67 percent increase from the current speed of 3 Mbps.  This speed increase will enable Internet Essentials families to enjoy a faster connection to conduct research, download assignments, access social media, submit college and job applications, and enjoy entertainment.

We have also streamlined enrollment in the program for even more families 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.

Internet Essentials Year 3

Click to download full infographic

 

Today, we have also reached some significant outreach milestones.  In the first 22 months of the program, we have:

  • Trained nearly 20,000 people through in-person digital literacy trainings.

  • Sold more than 18,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each.

  • Distributed more than 27 million brochures to school districts and our community partners for free.

  • Fielded more than 1.5 million phones calls in our dedicated Internet Essentials call center.

  • Publicized the program in more than 4,000 school districts and more than 30,000 schools.

  • Driven more than 1.2 million people to the Internet Essentials and Internet Basico websites, as well as our online learning portal.

  • Broadcast nearly 2 million public service announcements with a combined value of more than $25 million dollars. 

Our enrollment numbers and research show the program is working – making a real difference in people’s lives:

  • Internet Essentials customer satisfaction is 90 percent -- and 98 percent say they would recommend the service to others.

  • 85 percent of Internet Essentials customers report they use the Internet at home every day.

  • The most popular use of the Internet for Internet Essentials customers is doing homework (98 percent) – followed by conducting general research (94 percent).

  • 58 percent of Internet Essentials customers use their Internet service to search and apply for employment.

But while Internet Essentials outreach and enrollment numbers have grown substantially since 2012, we know there is more work to be done.  That is why we have sought to continuously improve the Internet Essentials program every year since its inception.  Earlier this year, we made a series of announcements that expanded the program’s eligible population to parochial, private, cyberschool, and homeschooled students; launched a new online enrollment tool available in English and Spanish through any Internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone; and introduced Internet Essentials Opportunity Cards, a resource that partners can use to connect eligible families to the Internet at home even faster.

We know that the importance of being online for students grows almost daily and the disparity of broadband adoption rates in low-income and upper-income neighborhoods is significant.  We see it in the neighborhoods we serve every day -- and Internet Essentials is our plan to do something about it.  With the tremendous support of our community partners, we are making progress one family at a time.

Please visit www.InternetEssentials.com or www.InternetBasico.com to learn more. 

Tags : digital divide, Internet Essentials

 
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