Comcast Kicks Off Year Two Of The Groundbreaking Internet Essentials Program Designed To Help Close The Digital Divide More than 100,000 Families or 400,000 Low-Income Americans Have Signed Up Nationally

Metro Detroit Increases Program Participants with Nearly 3,630 New Families Getting Online

RIVER ROUGE, Mich., Sept. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Comcast 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.  The announcement was made during an event hosted by Bret Perkins, Comcast  Vice President of External and Government Affairs and Shannon Bannon, Chief Operating Officer of The Guidance Center, at The Guidance Center's Walter White Community Resource Center in River Rouge. Joining to mark the occasion were: Michigan State Senator Morris Hood III (3rd District); Michigan State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (8th District); Michigan State Representative Paul Clemente (14th District); Michigan State Representative Andrew Kandrevas (13th District); Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib (12th District); Chris Wigent, Superintendent of Wayne Regional Education Service Agency; and several other dignitaries from various Metropolitan Detroit communities.

"It is vital that our communities become digitally connected, so our youth have the same opportunities and our adults may find jobs and grow our economy," said Michigan State Senator Morris Hood III. "The digital divide needs to be closed. Access to the internet in the home is critical for our students to receive the best education and opportunities to succeed."

In its first full year of availability, more than 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. Nearly 3,630 families are online in the Metropolitan Detroit area.

"Internet Essentials helps to level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students with teachers and their schools, and parents with job opportunities," stated Bret Perkins, Comcast's Vice President of External and Government Affairs. "Students and their parents are now able to go online at home and access the endless resources the Internet has to offer. We need our educators, community partners and government officials to help spread the word about Internet Essentials and close the digital divide."

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 site 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 NSLP participation, which includes Provision 2 schools; and
  • 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 a free or reduced school lunch under the National School Lunch Program (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 for at least three years, through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any household that qualifies during this three-year period will remain eligible for Internet Essentials if at least one child eligible for a free or reduced lunch remains living in the household. 

In Metropolitan Detroit, 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: ACCESS, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs, Detroit Parent Network, Focus: HOPE, The Guidance Center, Organization of Chinese Americans, Urban League, among others.

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.

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.

About The Guidance Center
Since 1958, The Guidance Center has responded to the ever-changing needs of Downriver and Southeast Michigan residents as an innovative leader providing quality behavioral health, prevention and educational program services to children, adults and families. The private, non-profit agency serves more than 24,500 children, adults and families each year.

SOURCE Comcast Cable



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