MANCHESTER, N.H., Oct. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With the start of the new school year, Comcast is re-launching Internet Essentials, the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. New Hampshire Speaker of the House Terie Norelli, New Hampshire Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry along with dozens of teachers and school administrators from throughout the Granite State, today kicked off the program's third year and announced that, in about 23 months, more than 220,000 families, benefitting an estimated 900,000 low-income Americans nationwide, now have a broadband connection at home. This includes nearly 1,000 families in New Hampshire and about 4,000 individuals in New Hampshire.
Today's event in Manchester is one in a series of events Comcast is hosting in 23 states across the country to raise visibility about bridging the digital divide in America and connecting more families to the Internet.
"Broadband is a critical ingredient for academic success," said Virginia M. Barry, Commissioner of Education for the state of New Hampshire. "I appreciate the vision of local school departments from the City of Nashua to the City of Portsmouth to support this initiative and encourage more families to get online. And we are grateful to Comcast for being a valuable partner in not only offering this important Internet Essentials program, but by providing digital literacy training as well. Having widespread Internet access in every home possible will ensure that our children have brighter opportunities in the future.''
"I'd like to congratulate communities across the Granite State for having made the Internet Essentials program such a resounding success," said Steve Hackley, Senior Vice President of Comcast's Greater Boston region. "Cities from Manchester to Portsmouth are helping connect their students and families to a stronger future of opportunities that will help increase success from an academic standpoint and help provide each family with new possibilities."In Manchester today, Comcast hosted a symposium to create further awareness of Internet Essentials and engage teachers, school administrators as well as community leaders around the issue of digital adoption and literacy. The momentum of Internet Essentials continues to increase. Since the program's launch in August 2011, Internet Essentials has enrolled upwards of 50,000 new families every six months. In the first six months of 2013, 70,000 new families have signed up. In addition, Comcast has distributed more than 18,000 subsidized computers; trained nearly 20,000 people; publicized the program in more than 4,000 school districts and more than 30,000 schools; broadcast nearly 2 million public service announcements and partnered with nearly 7,000 community based organizations, agencies, and officials to help spread the word about the program. 2013 Internet Essentials Enhancements: To increase enrollment and continue to help close the digital divide in America, Comcast continues to enhance Internet Essentials. This year we have:
- Increased Speed - For the second time in two years, Comcast has increased its broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers up to 5 Mbps downstream and up to 1 Mbps upstream. The company has more than tripled the download speeds for Internet Essentials customers since the program's launch.
- Streamlined Enrollment – Comcast has further streamlined the enrollment process 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.
- Expanded Eligibility – Comcast has expanded program eligibility criteria for the second time, to include parochial, private, cyberschool, and homeschooled students. Now, nearly 2.6 million families nationwide are eligible for Internet Essentials.
- Created an Online Application Tool – On InternetEssentials.com and InternetBasico.com, it is now easier and faster for a family to apply for Internet Essentials. This convenient online request form is available in English and Spanish and can be accessed through any Internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone. It can be used by families on computers at community centers, local libraries or at a friend's to request an application.
- Introduced Internet Essentials Opportunity Cards – Our community partners are now able to help connect low-income families to the Internet by purchasing Opportunity Cards that can be used toward the cost of paying for Internet Essentials service.