Comcast Internet Essentials Program Connects 150,000 In U.S., 9,000 In Michigan

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Comcast's Plymouth regional headquarters. Photo: Comcast Corp.

Comcast’s Plymouth regional headquarters. Photo: Comcast Corp.

PLYMOUTH — Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen Tuesday announced details about the 2nd Annual Internet Essentials Progress Report, which features key milestones for the program as well as a number of program enhancements and a new award designed to honor top-performing school districts.

Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest, most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative designed to help close the digital divide.

“In just 16 months, Internet Essentials has helped put a real dent in the digital divide and connected more than 150,000 low-income families, or 600,000 Americans, to the power of the Internet, most for the first time in their lives,” said Cohen. “To put that in perspective, that’s approximately the entire population of Washington, D.C. or Boston. Internet Essentials is not just about broadband adoption, however. It’s also about what the Internet can do for families, from finding a job to completing homework to accessing vital healthcare resources.  While we’re pleased with our progress to date, we have more work to do to bring more families into the digital age.”

In the Detroit metro area, more than 5,800 families are now online because of Internet Essentials, and in Michigan, more than 9,000 families are connfacts through the end of 2012 include:
* Printed and shipped more than 25 million pieces of collateral material for free.
* Fielded more than one million phone calls in our dedicated Internet Essentials call center.
* Distributed more than 15,000 computers at less than $150 each.
* Trained 10,000 people in-person about digital literacy and how to use the Internet.
* Received more than 800,000 visitors to the Internet Essentials and Internet Basico Web sites.
* Partnered with almost 7,000 community-based organizations, including government agencies and federal, state and local elected officials.

New for 2013 will be the following program enhancements:
* Expanding eligibility criteria to include parochial, private and homeschool students. This brings the estimated total number of eligible families to nearly 2.6 million.
* Creating a convenient online application request form available through InternetEssentials.com to improve and accelerate the application process. The online form makes it easier and faster than ever before to register. This spring, families will be able to use computers at community centers, local libraries or from a friend to request an application online.
* Introducing Opportunity Cards that enable non-profit organizations and others to pre-purchase Internet Essentials service in advance, for up to one year, for low-income families.  This provides yet another way to accelerate enrollment by * Empowering community-based partners, businesses and foundations to help connect families to the Internet.
* Expanding low-cost computer options by offering customers the ability to purchase an Internet-ready desktop or laptop for less than $150, in addition to the netbooks that Comcast already offers.  This partnership with Arrow (formerly Redemtech) was announced in the fall of 2012 and will be piloted in Philadelphia and Chicago before rolling out to other markets.
* Honoring the top 15 performing school districts with the Internet Essentials Gold Medal School District of Excellence Award to recognize the success of school districts nationwide and acknowledge their important role in helping to close the digital divide. In conjunction with the celebration of Comcast’s 50th anniversary later this year, each recognized district will be given 50 laptops for families or schools. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2013.

Intertnet Essentials provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150; and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person. Eligible families must have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, including public, parochial, private, and homeschool students.  We estimate a total of approximately 2.6 million eligible families live in our service area and therefore could apply for Internet Essentials.

Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. These households will remain eligible as long as one child eligible for a free or reduced lunch remains living in the household.

For general information about Internet Essentials, visit www.internetessentials.com for English, and visit www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at www.internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call (855) 846-8376 or, for Spanish, (855) 765-6995.

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