In late January, Comcast made a number of announcements about enhancements we had either made or planned to make to our Internet Essentials program. Today, I'm pleased to provide an update about our progress.
These enhancements are really important improvements to our already successful program for a couple of reasons. For one, we continually look for ways to make the program better and make changes as soon as we can. In addition, we want to reach even more customers as well as make existing customers happier with the service so they remain connected. For example, when we first started out, Internet Essentials was offered to families with children eligible to receive "free" school lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Today, we have officially extended the program to include families with children eligible to receive "reduced" price lunches too. This change adds about 300,000 households in our service area who can now apply for the program — bringing our estimated total to about 2.3 million eligible families. So, the universe of the program just got bigger, which is a good thing.
Second, we doubled the speed of the broadband connection provided with Internet Essentials. A faster connection will make our service even more enjoyable for current customers as well as help attract new ones. It now comes with up to 3 Mbps downstream and up to 768 Kbps upstream, which makes the online experience even better than it was before. The increase is available now and we notified customers by email that the only thing they need to do is reboot their modems in order to immediately get the new speeds.
Third, as we announced in January, we have streamlined the application process by providing an instant approval process for all students attending schools with the highest percentage of NSLP participation, including Provision 2 schools.
We'll continue to update you about new Internet Essentials program developments throughout the year. We're really excited to sign up more families now and we're already hard at work preparing for the next "back to school" season.
To learn more about the program or to order free, updated collateral materials, please visit www.internetessentials.com.