CHARLESTON, S.C., Sept. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- State Senator Paul Campbell, State Representative David Mack and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn joined Comcast Corporation's Executive Vice President David L. Cohen and the Charleston Digital Corridor today as they announced year two of Internet Essentials in Charleston. Internet Essentials is an ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program designed to help close the digital divide for low-income Americans. By taking more advantage of all the resources the Internet has to offer, students can maximize their academic potential and parents can improve their job skills or search for and apply for jobs online, as well as find local healthcare, community and government resources.
Nearly 450 Charleston area families have enrolled in the Internet Essentials program since it launched in August 2011, and nearly 9,000 families throughout the Charleston metro are currently eligible. In its first full year of national availability, more than 100,000 families or 400,000 Americans are now online due to the program, and Comcast continues to enhance the program with new features and processes designed to accelerate enrollment in the program.
Studies have shown 62 percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs, and American jobs related to the Internet contribute an estimated $300 billion of economic activity to the U.S. gross domestic product annually. Because students need to become proficient in digital literacy to compete successfully in tomorrow's job market, access to the Internet has become one of the most essential "back to school" tools.
"It is imperative in today's digital age that every one of our citizens has full access to all opportunities that the Internet has to offer," said State Senator Paul Campbell. "One of the keys to economic recovery is ensuring that our local workforce is properly trained in modern technologies and able to contribute the digital literacy skills needed for our area businesses to compete. I'm proud to join with Comcast in making broadband adoption for low-income families a top priority, and I ask my colleagues and our state's educators and community leaders to come together and help us as we fight to close the digital divide by placing Internet access into the hands of every local family."
"The jobs of today and tomorrow require our state's children to have a strong, wide range of digital technology skills," said State Representative David Mack. "I am so pleased to see Comcast making a deep investment in both our students and our workforce, and I am excited to pledge my support to the Internet Essentials program. This initiative has already changed the lives of numerous Charleston families, and I look forward to seeing the program's continuing impact in the years to come."
"Americans need to have access to affordable broadband and the means and capabilities to use it," added FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. "I'm so happy that Comcast is helping to narrow the digital divide through its Internet Essentials program, and I stand as a partner to continue preaching the benefits of all that the Internet can offer to our daily lives."
Numerous local organizations and businesses have partnered with Comcast to address broadband adoption in Charleston and the role digital literacy plays in the state's economy. Charleston Digital Corridor, Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Trident Technical College and the Trident Area United Way are among the organization's that have pledged their support for the Internet Essentials program and have committed to making broadband training a key component of work readiness programs.
Comcast furthered its commitment to enhancing Charleston's economic and workforce development by also announcing a $25,000 grant on behalf of the Comcast Foundation that will be used to fund the Carolina Youth Development Center's 2012-13 Digital Connectors class. Digital Connectors is an educational program designed by Comcast and One Economy to teach underserved youth skills in digital literacy, computer programming and refurbishment. Students in the program spend part of the training period volunteering as digital ambassadors to local families throughout the greater Trident area.
David L. Cohen, Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President, said, "The Internet is a great equalizer and a life-changing technology. Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their school's educational resources. The Internet Essentials program also enables parents to receive digital literacy training so they can apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live."
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;
- 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 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 Charleston, 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: Trident Area United Way, Trident Technical College, Carolina Youth Development Center and The Charleston Digital Corridor.
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.
SOURCE Comcast Corporation