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. Comcast Regional Vice President Rich Jennings, Lieutenant Governor of Colorado Joe Garcia and numerous other civic and community leaders today kicked off the program’s third year and announced that, in about 22 months, more than 220,000 families, or an estimated 900,000 low-income Americans nationwide, now have a broadband connection at home. This includes more than 8,000 families in Denver, and more than 11,000 in Colorado. In Colorado, around 3,000 families have gained access to a broadband connection through Internet Essentials in the last year alone. In town to celebrate the re-launch was Tony Dungy, the Super Bowl-winning former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Dungy leads the Dungy Family Foundation in Tampa, Fla., which strengthens, sustains and empowers communities by providing opportunities to those in need, opportunities like the ones provided through Internet Essentials. “Thanks to community leaders and schools nationwide, more Americans now have the opportunity to use the power of the Internet at home to get ahead in work, education, and life, just by doing things online that many of us take for granted, such as completing homework, applying for a job, researching a health condition, or paying a bill,” said Jennings. “Together, with cities like Denver, we are making real and significant progress in closing the digital divide in America.” In Denver, approximately 300 children and parents, members of the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club or who attend public schools in that district, took part in an in-person Q&A with Dungy and had the opportunity to learn more about Internet Essentials. Today’s event was 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. “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.”
In Colorado, Comcast is working with more than 75 community-based organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club, Mi Casa and both the Denver and the Aurora Public Schools Education Foundations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training.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.