BALTIMORE, Sept. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President David L. Cohen was joined by U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings, U.S. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, along with local school system officials, city leaders and community organizations, to introduce the Internet Essentials program at a special event held today at Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School in Baltimore City. Internet Essentials provides families with children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) with low-cost Internet service, affordable computers and free digital literacy training. The goal of Internet Essentials is to help close the digital divide and ensure more Americans benefit from all the Internet has to offer.
The program addresses what research has identified as the three primary barriers to broadband adoption:
- A lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful;
- The cost of a home computer; and
- The cost of Internet service.
According to David L. Cohen, Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President, "Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their schools' educational resources. The program will also enable parents to receive digital literacy training so they can do things like apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live."
"Working with our federal partners, Maryland is strengthening its broadband infrastructure in communities from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland," said Governor O'Malley. "Comcast, Internet Essentials and our expanding ability to provide access to the Internet will open up a new world of educational opportunities for our children, employment opportunities for our citizens and critical access to essential services. Together, we can make Maryland one of the best connected states in the nation."
"Computer skills are becoming a necessity for Americans at a very early age, and children who are not connected at home are falling further behind their peers not only in grade school, but as they enter college and a high-tech working world," said Congressman Cummings. "With this program, Comcast is setting an important precedent, and sharing in our responsibility as a nation to find ways to close the digital divide."
Internet Essentials participants will receive:
- Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month + applicable taxes;
- No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees;
- A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 + tax; and
- Access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in person.
Additional benefits include the Norton™ Security Suite ($160 value) for comprehensive online security protection at no additional cost.
A household is eligible to participate in the Internet Essentials program 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 school lunch under the NSLP (As an example, according to the Department of Agriculture, a household of three would have to make less than $25,000 a year in income);
- 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 provided a child eligible for a free lunch remains living in the household.
In the Greater Baltimore area, 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 Family League of Baltimore, Education Based Latino Outreach, Maryland Hunger Solutions, Saint Frances Academy and grassroots organizations working to bring Internet access, training and technology to low-income communities across the region.
For general information about Internet Essentials, visit www.internetessentials.com for English or 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.
Comcast supports various programs in the Baltimore area that promote digital literacy, including the Comcast Digital Connectors program in partnership with One Economy, which provides young people with an opportunity to learn about broadband technologies and how to put that knowledge to work in a wide range of career development and community service activities.
Comcast is also a proud supporter of United Way of Central Maryland, Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore and Living Classrooms Foundation. In addition, the Company provides courtesy Internet service to libraries and community centers throughout the Baltimore area.
About Comcast Cable:
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) (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 Cable