BOSTON, Nov. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With the start of the new school year, Comcast is re-launching Internet Essentials, the nation's largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. Today, Comcast representatives, local Elected Officials and Northeastern University joinedwith more than 200 Boston Public Schools students, teachers and administrators tokick off the program's third year and announced that, in about 24 months, more than 1 million low-income Americans or 250,000 families nationwide now have a broadband connection at home. This includes more than 6,000 families and about 24,000 individuals in Massachusetts.
Today's event in Boston is one in a series of 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.
"I want to congratulate Comcast for all they are doing here in Boston and all across the nation to help students and their families bridge the digital divide,'' said Boston City Councilor-At-Large-elect Michael Flaherty. "Having affordable broadband access and computers in the home is such a game-changer for so many low-income families who would otherwise lag behind. Bridging the gap through partnerships within the community – in this case, with Northeastern, the Boston Public Schools and political leaders - is also a Comcast hallmark and I look forward to doing what I can to ensure the success of Internet Essentials in our city.''
"I'd like to congratulate Mayor Menino and the Boston Public Schools for having made the Internet Essentials program such a resounding success," said Steve Hackley, Senior Vice President of Comcast's Greater Boston region. "Cities like Boston are helping connect their students and families to a stronger future of opportunities that will help increase success from an academic standpoint and help provide each family with new possibilities."
Comcast and Northeastern University also announced a multifaceted partnership designed to increase awareness of the importance of closing the digital divide through Public Service Announcements on Comcast's lineup throughout most of New England as well as digital literacy training sessions scheduled throughout the City of Boston. "Northeastern is proud to be part of this meaningful initiative that breaks down barriers and gives students and families access to the Internet and the future," said John Tobin, Vice President of City and Community Affairs at Northeastern University. "Regardless of income and demographics, everyone deserves access to information and opportunity."
Hackley added, "We're thrilled to team up with Northeastern University, one of the country's leading universities focused on experiential learning. The combination of neighborhood- based training sessions implemented by university volunteers coupled with Public Service Announcements on our advanced fiber network is a model for corporate-academic collaboration. We look forward to watching this partnership develop and produce great results as both institutions are focused on working together to help close the digital divide."
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 2 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. The company 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 Massachusetts, Comcast is working with a variety of community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. These organizations include: Boys & Girls Clubs in our Massachusetts footprint, Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, IBA (Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion) and Northeastern University.
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.
About Northeastern University:
Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a comprehensive, global research university. Based in Boston, with two graduate campuses in Seattle and Charlotte, the university offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 165 graduate programs, ranging from professional master's degrees to interdisciplinary PhD programs. Northeastern's research enterprise is aligned with three national imperatives: health, security and sustainability. Northeastern students participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning in 114 countries on all seven continents.