Comcast today announced a pilot program with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) ConnectHome initiative to attack the digital divide for public housing residents. Eligibility for Internet Essentials, Comcast’s acclaimed, high-speed Internet adoption program, will be immediately extended to public housing residents in Miami-Dade County and the cities of Nashville, Philadelphia, and Seattle. This is the eighth time in five years Comcast has expanded eligibility for Internet Essentials.
Also today, Comcast announced its latest Internet Essentials milestones. In less than five years, the program has now connected more than 600,000 low-income families, benefitting more than 2.4 million Americans, to the Internet at home. In fact, 2015 was the program’s single most successful year ever, with a 30 percent increase in enrollments over 2014.
Comcast Corporation Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer David L. Cohen and HUD Secretary Julián Castro made today’s announcements alongside Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez and City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado at Rainbow Village, a public housing development in Miami, Florida. At the event, Comcast technicians were on hand to install Internet service on the spot. Comcast also provided a free laptop computer and six months’ worth of complimentary Internet Essentials Internet service to every Rainbow Village household. In addition, the company donated 15 new computers to the Rainbow Village computer lab where digital literacy training sessions take place after school and where students can do homework and adults can get online.
"Internet access at home is essential to succeed in today’s digital world on all fronts, from employment to education. Unfortunately, a cruel irony is at work, as the majority of low-income families, including those in public housing, who truly need the transformative power of the Internet are not connected," said Cohen. "Comcast’s collaboration with ConnectHome will not only build a bridge for those living in public housing to cross the digital divide, but the Internet also gives them a ladder to educational and vocational resources that can improve the quality of their lives and help them claim their American dream."
Here’s a glimpse into one day with a family in Philadelphia who has benefited from having the power of the Internet in the home through Internet Essentials.
"ConnectHome is expanding opportunity for the next generation, preparing them for success in the 21st century," said Castro. "We’re thankful to have Comcast join the ConnectHome initiative and our continued efforts to close the digital divide. Through their commitment and all of our great stakeholders, public and private, we’re leveling the playing field for public housing residents across the nation and opening doors to prosperity that otherwise would remain closed."
Between 2009 and 2014, broadband service providers spent over $422 billion on capital investments, and three in four American households now use broadband at home. Despite this significant progress, one in four American households still don’t access the Internet at home, particularly lower-income families with children. While nearly two-thirds of America’s lowest-income households own a computer, less than half have a home Internet subscription. HUD’s ConnectHome initiative strives to ensure that students can access the same level of high-speed Internet at home that they possess in their classrooms.
Today’s announcement marks the eighth time in five years Comcast has expanded eligibility for the program, which underscores the company’s commitment to attacking the digital divide. Originally, Internet Essentials was offered to families with children eligible to receive a free school lunch from the National School Lunch Program. It was first expanded to children also eligible for the reduced price school lunch program. Comcast then expanded eligibility to include families with children in parochial, private, charter, and cyber schools, as well as students who are home schooled. Last year, Comcast extended the program two more times, on a pilot basis, to low-income seniors and low-income community college students. In addition, Comcast has expanded the number of schools where every student in the school will be deemed eligible for the program so long as a certain percentage of the kids in that school are NSLP eligible – from 70 percent, to 50 percent, and now to 40 percent. As a result, Comcast estimates auto-enrollment now applies to about half of the 48,000 schools across its service area.
Internet Essentials includes high-speed Internet service with download speeds up to 10 Mbps, a free Wi-Fi router, access to free digital literacy training, and the option to purchase a computer for less than $150. Public housing residents in the four pilot markets (Miami-Dade County and the cities of Nashville, Philadelphia, Seattle) are eligible to apply, regardless of whether they have a child in the National School Lunch Program or not. To apply, visit www.InternetEssentials.com or call 1-855-847-3356.
Internet Essentials Key Investments
Since 2011, Comcast has invested more than $280 million in cash and in-kind support to help fund digital literacy training and education initiatives, reaching nearly 4.4 million people through national and local nonprofit community partners. Through the end of February 2016, Comcast has:
Provided more than 47,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each.
Distributed for free nearly 51 million Internet Essentials program materials.
Broadcast more than 8.3 million public service announcements, valued at more than $100 million.
Welcomed 5 million visitors to the Internet Essentials websites in English and Spanish and its Online Learning Center.
Fielded more than 3.9 million phone calls to our Internet Essentials call center.
Made Internet Essentials available in nearly 48,000 schools in more than 5,000 school districts, in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
Partnered with 9,000 community-based organizations, government agencies, and federal, state, and local elected officials to spread the word.