With distance learning plans rolling out across the country due to the coronavirus, Comcast today announced a new program for cities, schools, and nonprofits to connect large numbers of low-income K-12 students to the Internet at home. The “Internet Essentials Partnership Program” is designed to help accelerate Internet adoption at a critical time. In nearly ten years, Internet Essentials has become the nation’s largest and most successful low-income Internet adoption program and has connected millions of people to the Internet. It offers households low-cost, broadband Internet service for $9.95/month, the option to purchase a heavily subsidized computer, and multiple options for digital literacy training. Comcast also announced today it is giving all Internet Essentials customers its innovative xFi platform, which enables parents to control and manage their children’s WiFi connected devices.
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Internet Essentials (Photo: Business Wire)
Accelerating Internet Adoption:
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Internet Essentials Partnership Program” has already collaborated with more than 70 schools across the country. The program relies on public-private partnerships and enables entire communities to work together to coordinate funding to help connect K-12 students. The program also includes two months of free Internet service for new Internet Essentials customers. Recent partnerships with schools in Chicago, Atlanta, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Portland, and Arlington, VA mean more than 200,000 qualified students now have a greater opportunity to get connected. Visit: www.comcastcorporation.com/IEPP for more information.
“We’ve seen firsthand that low-cost Internet access is an important part of improving digital equity and creating positive opportunities for low-income students and families,” said Dana Strong, President of Xfinity Consumer Services. “Through this new partnership program, we are accelerating the efforts of cities, schools, philanthropies, nonprofits, and private citizens to collaborate and open the doors of Internet access for more families in need.”
The initiative builds on Comcast’s recent announcement that it will continue to offer, through the end of 2020, all new Internet Essentials customers two months of free Internet service and it will forgive back debt due so more families can apply.
Putting Home WiFi Controls into Parents’ Hands and Keeping Families Safe Online:
With so many families at home, parents and caregivers need controls to manage their home WiFi connection and their children’s devices. So, Comcast is providing all Internet Essentials customers free access to xFi, which is a simple, digital dashboard that enables customers to set up and manage their home WiFi. With it, they can see what devices are connected, set safe-browsing modes so children can only access age-appropriate content, get notifications about activity on their home WiFi, and have the ability to pause devices for dinner or bedtime.
Partnering to Accelerate Internet Adoption and Address Digital and Media Literacy:
As research shows, barriers to broadband adoption are more complex than having access to an Internet connection, even when it’s heavily discounted or free. It’s also clear that no single entity can solve the digital divide alone. As a result, the success of Internet Essentials is due to partnerships with more than 10,000 government and elected officials, school districts, libraries, nonprofits, community-based organizations, and others. Collectively, they help to address the full range of barriers to broadband adoption.
Comcast also announced plans today that it will convene a series of virtual national and regional summits this fall. Each one will focus on several issues including: education, broadband adoption, digital and media literacy and training, and Internet safety. In addition, this fall Comcast will publish its annual Internet Essentials progress report and relaunch its Internet Essentials Partner Portal, located at www.internetessentials.com/partner, to include case studies, research, and links to creative broadband adoption solutions. Resources there will be made free for anyone to access, including other Internet Service Providers and nonprofits.
About Internet Essentials:
Since August 2011, Internet Essentials has connected millions of low-income households to the Internet, most for the very first time. During that period, the program has grown from focusing on bridging the “homework gap” for school-age children to addressing digital equity issues for all Americans. The program offers low-cost, high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month plus tax, provides access to free digital skills training in print, online, and in person, and includes the option to purchase a low-cost Internet-ready computer. For individuals and organizations interested in becoming a partner, please visit: https://partner.internetessentials.com to order free collateral materials.
To apply, go to: www.internetessentials.com using any web-connected device, including mobile phones. The accessible website also includes the option to video chat with customer service agents in American Sign Language. In addition, there are two dedicated phone numbers: 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
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 high-speed Internet, video, 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.