FRESNO, Calif., Aug. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Comcast Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations, Filemon Lopez, today announced year two of Internet Essentials, an ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program designed to help close the digital divide for low-income Americans. In its first full year of availability, nearly 100,000 families or 400,000 Americans are now online and Comcast continues to enhance the program with new features and processes designed to accelerate enrollment in the program. The Greater Fresno area currently has more than 2,650 families connected to the Internet Essentials program.
The briefing at Mario Olmos Elementary School in Southeast Fresno also included Fresno City Councilman Sal Quintero and Fresno Unified School District Board of Education President Valerie Davis. The elected officials joined Fresno Fuego soccer players at a Comcast Family Digital Fair to showcase best-in-class broadband inclusion programs and to celebrate the success of the Internet Essentials initiative.
"I'm proud to stand here today and say that the City of Fresno is helping the nation close the digital divide for our citizens," said Mayor Swearengin. "But we still have more work to do. There are still too many low-income families in Fresno who can benefit from getting online at home. So, I'm urging parents, educators, community leaders and other government officials to press on with this effort, spread the word and help increase broadband adoption in our community."
Filemon Lopez, Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations, added, "I'd like to congratulate Mayor Swearengin, and her school administration in Fresno for having made the Internet Essentials program such a resounding success. Cities like Fresno are making a tangible difference in the lives of its students and families who are now able to go online at home and access the endless resources the Internet has to offer."
Last year, Comcast California had also announced a contribution of $15,000 to its Fresno non-profit partner Reading & Beyond (www.readingandbeyond.org) to assist families in purchasing a computer through the Internet Essentials program. Since some families might not have the means to pay the full computer amount up front, Reading & Beyond has used Comcast's contribution to create a 'micro-lending' program for families to be able to purchase the $149.99 + taxes computer available through the Internet Essentials initiative and repay Reading & Beyond through an installment payment plan.
New in 2012:
Since Internet Essentials launched, Comcast has made a number of program enhancements including:
- Expanded eligibility criteria to include families with children eligible to receive reduced price school lunches under the National School Lunch Program. This means nearly 300,000 additional households are now eligible for the program, bringing the total to 2.3 million eligible families;
- Doubled broadband speeds to up to 3 Mbps downstream and up to 768 Kbps upstream;
- Upgraded the free Internet safety software to include the Constant Guard Protection Suite, which includes top-rated Norton Security Suite, identity theft protection and more;
- Enriched digital literacy training efforts both online and in-person, including offering a series of short videos, featuring NBC and Telemundo news personalities Al Roker, Kate Snow, Jenna Wolfe and Jose Diaz-Balart, discussing how to use job search tools and social networking sites as well as tips for what parents should know about cyber bullying;
- Streamlined the approval process by providing an instant approval process for all students who attend schools with the highest percentage of National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation, which includes Provision 2 schools;
- Introduced a bulk order program that empowers community-based organizations to purchase Internet Essentials accounts so they can connect the eligible families they serve.
Internet Essentials Program Details:
Internet Essentials addresses three primary barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified – a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful, the cost of a home computer and the cost of the Internet service. Program participants receive:
- Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes;
- No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees;
- A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 plus tax; and
- Access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.
A household is eligible to participate if it meets all of the following criteria:
- Is located where Comcast offers Internet service;
- Has at least one child who is eligible to receive either a free or reduced school lunch under the NSLP;
- Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days;
- Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.
Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program, through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any household that qualifies will remain eligible for Internet Essentials if at least one child eligible for either a free or reduced lunch remains living in the household.
In Fresno, Comcast is working with a growing network of community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. Those organizations include the Fresno Boys & Girls Club, Encourage Tomorrow, PIQE (Parent Involvement for Quality Education), Reading & Beyond and the Youth Leadership Institute.
For general information about Internet Essentials, please 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 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.
Downloadable broadcast-quality B-roll video footage of today's event and announcement is available at: http://comcastcalifornia.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=98.
About Comcast Corporation:
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.
SOURCE Comcast Corporation