HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With the new school year under way, Comcast is re-launching Internet Essentials, the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson, Dauphin County Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III, Harrisburg School District Superintendent Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney, and Comcast Regional Vice President of Government Affairs Frank Lynch, along with civic and community leaders, today kicked off the program's third year and announced that, in just over two years, more than 250,000 families, benefitting an estimated one million low-income Americans nationwide, now have a broadband connection at home. This includes 1,600 families in the Harrisburg area and more than 11,000 in Pennsylvania.
"Having access to 21st Century resources is necessary in education today," said Superintendent Knight-Burney. "The Internet provides students with the tools necessary to be active and engaged learners. By having access to the many educational tools found on the Internet, our students can become not only consumers of knowledge but also creators of content, extending their learning to deeper levels of understanding. We need to break down the barriers that keep these valuable resources from our students. We are excited to see this opportunity provided to our students and families."
Today's event at Harrisburg High School is one in a series of back-to-school events Comcast is hosting in 23 states across the country to raise visibility about bridging the digital divide in America and connecting more families to the Internet.
At the event, Comcast's Harrisburg area partners pledged to renew focus on helping to spread the word about Internet Essentials and increase participation by making brochures and posters available at City and County offices as well as on Capital Area Transit buses in Central Pennsylvania and at facilities operated by the Dauphin County Housing Authority; sending letters to constituents; and training staff and volunteers to be able to speak to the importance of Internet access at home.
In addition, Comcast's local Government Affairs team has offered to mentor two Harrisburg High School students completing senior projects with the goal of increasing awareness of the necessity of Internet access in the home to enhance learning and success.
"Thanks to community leaders and schools nationwide, more than one million low-income Americans now have the opportunity to use the power of the Internet at home to get ahead in work, education, and life, doing things online that many of us take for granted, such as completing homework assignments, applying for a job or for college admission, researching healthcare providers, or paying a bill," said Lynch. "Together, with cities like Harrisburg, we are pleased to be making real and significant progress in closing the digital divide in America."
Commissioner Hartwick added, "Without access to the latest learning technology our kids are not only behind in the game, they're not even in the same ballpark. Making sure that families in need have affordable access to the Internet is more than just a nice thing to do, it's critical if our community is going to prosper in an age increasingly driven by technological advances. I applaud our partners here today, and pledge the full resources of Dauphin County to make sure that our kids can shine with the tools they need to achieve great things."
"There is nothing more important to a bright future for our kids than to instill in them a love of learning, and putting the tools of technology in their hands will help do that," said Mayor Thompson. "Which is why I'm here today – to pledge the resources of our City to make sure that families are aware of the power of the Internet as a teaching tool, and to find ways to get that technology into the home. Savvy kids adept at technology will not only assure their individual success, our community will be a better place when our young people have the tools to become the very best they can be."
The momentum of Internet Essentials continues to increase. Since the program's launch in August 2011, Internet Essentials has enrolled upwards of 50,000 new families every six months. In the first six months of 2013, 70,000 new families have signed up. In addition, Comcast has distributed more than 18,000 subsidized computers; trained nearly 20,000 people; publicized the program in more than 4,000 school districts and more than 30,000 schools; broadcast nearly two million public service announcements; and partnered with nearly 7,000 community-based organizations, agencies, and officials to help spread the word about the program.
2013 Internet Essentials Enhancements:
To increase enrollment and continue to help close the digital divide in America, Comcast continues to enhance Internet Essentials. This year we have:
- Increased Speed – For the second time in two years, Comcast has increased its broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers up to 5 Mbps downstream and up to 1 Mbps upstream. Comcast has more than tripled the download speeds for Internet Essentials customers since the program's launch.
- Streamlined Enrollment – Comcast has further streamlined the enrollment process by expanding the instant approval process for families whose students attend schools where 70 percent or more of the students are eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program.
- Expanded Eligibility – Comcast has expanded program eligibility criteria for the second time, to include parochial, private, cyberschool, and homeschooled students. Now, nearly 2.6 million families nationwide are eligible for Internet Essentials.
- Created an Online Application Tool – On InternetEssentials.com and InternetBasico.com, it is now easier and faster for a family to apply for Internet Essentials. This convenient online request form is available in English and Spanish and can be accessed through any Internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone. It can be used by families on computers at community centers, local libraries or at a friend's to request an application.
- Introduced Internet Essentials Opportunity Cards – Our community partners are now able to help connect low-income families to the Internet by purchasing Opportunity Cards that can be used toward the cost of paying for Internet Essentials service.
In Harrisburg, Comcast is working with 26 community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. These organizations include: Communities in Schools, The Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg, American Literacy Corporation, Hamilton Health Center, Harrisburg Housing Authority, Capital Area Head Start, Brethren Community Ministries, PA Forward (A project of the Pennsylvania Library Association), Community Action Commission, United Way of the Capital Region and Goodwill Keystone Area.
About Internet Essentials:
Internet Essentials from Comcast is the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. It 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. A household is eligible to participate if it has at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), is located where Comcast offers Internet service, has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days, and does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment. Families that enroll in the program can continue to enjoy the service as long as one child eligible to participate in the NSLP is living in the household.
For more information about Internet Essentials visit InternetEssentials.com for English and InternetBasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at 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) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates 30 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. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.
SOURCE Comcast Cable