Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, along with Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, today announced year two of Internet Essentials, an ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program designed to help close the digital divide for low-income Americans. In its first full year of availability, more than 100,000 families - that's more than 400,000 Americans - are now online. Comcast continues to enhance the program with new features and processes designed to accelerate enrollment in the program. In the Greater Philadelphia market area, more than 3,250 low-income families, or 13,000 residents, are now online because of Internet Essentials.
Also appearing at the event at Constitution High School was former NFL Coach and National Internet Essentials spokesman Tony Dungy.
"Internet Essentials is bringing the transformative power of the Internet into homes all across the United States as well as right here in Philadelphia," said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation. "There is no more important back to school supply than an Internet connection. With it, kids will grow up digitally literate and in a better position to graduate prepared to go to college or to compete for good paying jobs in an increasingly digital and global economy."
"As our society becomes more reliant on technology, those who aren't connected are getting left behind," said Mayor Nutter. "Bridging the digital divide is not just important for Philadelphia, it is vital. The Internet Essentials program helps achieve that goal by linking low-income Philadelphians to low-price computers and internet service and will continue to do so in its second year."
According to David L. Cohen, Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President, "Internet Essentials helps entire families take advantage of all the Internet has to offer. Whether connecting students to online resources so they can do homework or connecting parents to their children's school to see grades in real time, Internet Essentials helps make vital connections and communications happen."
"It's critical that low-income families take advantage of opportunities like the Internet Essentials program," said Dungy. "The Internet provides access to a world of knowledge and resources that kids and families today simply cannot live without. The world is moving too fast and families who are not online at home are being left behind. It's our responsibility to help level the playing field and get more families connected."
In partnership with Comcast, A&E Networks helped illustrate the importance of online education through an event that featured a trivia contest and a screening for its new season of How the States Got Their Shapes at the National Constitution Center. "H2's How the States Got Their Shapes is a great example of the outstanding content Comcast brings to homes and schools through the Internet Essentials program," said Dr. Libby O'Connell, Chief Historian and SVP, Corporate Outreach for H2. "We are so pleased to be here in Philadelphia to help bridge the digital divide and celebrate the launch of a new season." How the States Got Their Shapes premieres on H2 on Saturday, September 29 at 10EST.
Internet Essentials: New in 2012:
Since Internet Essentials launched, Comcast has made a number of program enhancements including:
- Expanded eligibility criteria to include families with children eligible to receive reduced price school lunches under the National School Lunch Program. This means nearly 300,000 additional households are now eligible for the program, bringing the total to 2.3 million eligible families;
- Doubled broadband speeds to up to 3 Mbps downstream and up to 768 Kbps upstream;
- Upgraded the free Internet safety software to include the Constant Guard Protection Suite, which includes top-rated Norton Security Suite, identity theft protection and more;
- Enriched digital literacy training efforts both online and in-person, including offering a series of short videos, featuring NBC and Telemundo news personalities Al Roker, Kate Snow, Jenna Wolfe and Jose Diaz-Balart, discussing how to use job search tools and social networking sites as well as tips for what parents should know about cyber bullying;
- Streamlined the approval process by providing an instant approval process for all students who attend schools with the highest percentage of National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation, which includes Provision 2 schools;
- Introduced a bulk order program that empowers community-based organizations to purchase Internet Essentials accounts so they can connect the eligible families they serve.
Internet Essentials Program Details:
Internet Essentials addresses three primary barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified: a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful, the cost of a home computer and the cost of the Internet service. Program participants receive:
- Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes;
- No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees;
- A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 plus tax; and
- Access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.
A household is eligible to participate if it meets all of the following criteria:
- Is located where Comcast offers Internet service;
- Has at least one child who is eligible to receive either a free or reduced school lunch under the NSLP;
- Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days;
- Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.
Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any household that qualifies will remain eligible for Internet Essentials if at least one child eligible for either a free or reduced lunch remains living in the household.
In Philadelphia, Comcast is working with a growing network of community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. Those organizations include Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Freedom Rings Partnership, LIFT-Philadelphia, Philadelphia OIC, Urban Affairs Coalition and YMCA of Philadelphia and Vicinity.
For general information about Internet Essentials, please visit www.internetessentials.com for English and visit www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at www.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) (www.comcast.com) is one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.