ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Oct. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With the new school year in full swing, Comcast is re-launching Internet Essentials, the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. Governor Susana Martinez, NFL great Tony Dungy, and Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, along with civic and community leaders, today kicked off the program's third year and announced that, in just about two years, more than 250,000 families, benefitting an estimated 1 million low-income Americans nationwide, now have a broadband connection at home. This includes more than 4,000 families in New Mexico and more than 2,500 families in the Albuquerque metro.
"Internet Essentials can have a game-changing impact on education and the lives of young people," said Dungy. "It really levels the playing field for those that might not have the opportunities they deserve just because they never had access to the tools and resources that drive success in today's technologically advanced world."
Today's event in Albuquerque is one in a series of back to school 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.
"In today's increasingly digital world, broadband access and computer skills are critical for school kids and their parents. Tools like Internet Essentials will allow more New Mexico families to engage with and stay connected to their children's education," said Governor Susana Martinez. "In fact, this week we've announced some online education tools and resources and this program will help all families take advantage of them. I'm grateful that a program like Comcast Internet Essentials is working to level the playing field by providing families with access to computers, Internet service and the skills needed to use both.""Compared to a year ago we have more than doubled the number of families in New Mexico who are now able to complete school assignments, access government resources, apply for jobs and scholarships and pay bills at home," said Cohen. "With the unwavering support of schools, community organizations, legislators and other partners in New Mexico and nationwide, our Internet Essentials program has been making demonstrable progress in closing the digital divide." 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.