For one 17-year-old student, Comcast's Internet Essentials ended the frustration of being at a digital disadvantage while creating more time to focus on what was important.

Cleveland Redd, a college-bound junior at Auburn High School in Rockford, Ill., received Internet Essentials and a laptop as a gift earlier this year. Recently, he told his hometown newspaper how Comcast's Internet Essentials has made a resounding difference in his education and in his preparation for life beyond high school.

"I don’t have to worry anymore about getting to a library in time or how I’m going to get there," Redd told the Rockford Register-Star. "I’m up until midnight some nights working on homework. It’s made it easier to get everything done."

Redd said that without home access to the internet, he became dependent on seeking public transportation to the closest library with internet access, all while juggling his academic and athletic schedules. Redd is a National Honor Society student with plans to play college football, the paper explained. 

Nearly 78 percent of his Rockford classmates are considered low-income according to the Illinois State Board of Education. His family is one of 15,593 families in the Chicago metro area and 23,400 in the state of Illinois who have subscribed to Internet Essentials. But awareness in Rockford is relatively low. Only 1,300 eligible low-income families in the economically distressed area surrounding Rockford have signed up for the program, the story reports, but many more are eligible.

Families with at least one child eligible for the lunch program can receive basic broadband through Comcast's Internet Essentials for $9.95 a month, the option to buy a computer for less than $150 and access to digital literacy training. 

Thanks to the program - the nation's largest initiative designed to close the digital divide - more than 150,000 families, or 600,000 low-income Americans, are now online. The program is now open to all eligible students, whether in public, private, parochial, or home schools, bringing the estimated total number of eligible families to nearly 2.6 million.

To learn more about how to receive low-cost broadband through Comcast's Internet Essentials visit

(Photo: Courtesy of the Rockford Register-Star)