Comcast announced today it is significantly expanding eligibility for Internet Essentials, which is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, to include all qualified low-income households in its service area. The expansion is the most significant change in the program’s history and the Company estimates that nearly three million additional low-income households, including households with people with disabilities, are now eligible to apply. In addition, the company announced that, since August 2011, Internet Essentials has connected more than eight million low-income individuals, from two million households, to the Internet at home, most for the very first time. Today’s announcement follows 11 prior eligibility expansions, including last year’s extension of the program to low-income veterans.
“This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal we set eight years ago, which was to meaningfully and significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans,” said David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast NBCUniversal. “The Internet is arguably the most important technological innovation in history, and it is unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource. Whether the Internet is used for students to do their homework, adults to look for and apply for new jobs, seniors to keep in touch with friends and family, or veterans to access their well-deserved benefits, it is absolutely essential to be connected in our modern, digital age.”
To be eligible to apply to the program, low-income applicants simply need to show they are participating in one of more than a dozen different federal assistance programs. These include: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A full list of these programs can be found at www.internetessentials.com. The Company already accepts applications from households that have a student eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, live in public housing or receive HUD Housing Assistance, including Section 8 vouchers, or participate in the Veterans Pension Program, as well as low-income seniors and community college students in select pilot markets.
“Having an Internet connection at home is absolutely vital for low-income people living with disabilities,” said Carol Salter, President of Easter Seals of Oregon. “I commend Comcast for extending its Internet Essentials program because it will help us advance our mission to assist individuals with disabilities, veterans, seniors and their families, particularly in updating their technology skills and finding career opportunities.”
According to the U.S. Census 2017 American Community Survey, households living in cities with the highest poverty rates are up to 10 times more likely than those in higher earning cities not to have wireline broadband Internet service at home. For example, in Palo Alto, California and Bethesda, Maryland, where poverty rates are very low, only six percent of households do not have a wireline broadband subscription. But in cities like Trenton, New Jersey and Flint, Michigan, where poverty rates are above the national average, up to 60 percent of households do not have wireline broadband at home.
The most significant barrier to broadband adoption in low-income communities remains a basket of digital literacy deficits, lack of digital awareness, and fear of the Internet. As a result, since 2011, Comcast has invested more than $650 million to support digital literacy training and awareness, reaching more than 9.5 million low-income Americans. In addition, the company has either sold or donated more than 100,000 discounted and heavily subsidized computers to families and veterans that need one.
Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified. These include: a lack of digital literacy skills, lack of awareness of the relevance of the Internet to everyday life needs, and fear of the Internet, the lack of a computer, and cost. As a result, the program includes: multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in person; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for less than $150; and low-cost, high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month plus tax. The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners. For more information, or to apply for the program in seven different languages, please visit www.internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376. Spanish-only speakers can also call 1-855-765-6995.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses: Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky. Comcast Cable is one of the United States’ largest video, high-speed Internet, and phone providers to residential customers under the Xfinity brand, and also provides these services to businesses. It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the Xfinity brand. NBCUniversal is global and operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts. Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services. It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed Internet, phone, and wireless services. Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.