Comcast enters second year of Internet Essentials broadband programme

Michelle Clancy | 10-09-2012

As it enters the second year of the Internet Essentials broadband adoption programme, Comcast has announced that more than 100,000 families and 400,000 low-income Americans have signed up nationally.

Comcast/NBC Universal President Kyle McSlarrow joined state, local and school district officials (as well as special guest SpongeBob SquarePants) at Seahurst Elementary School to announce year two of the programme, designed to help close the digital divide for low-income Americans.

For the first time, these families have access to the universe of content, applications and utilities. It also opens the door to online video and other low-cost video entertainment options.
"Price can be a major barrier to engaging Washington's families in the state's growing digital economy. Programs like Comcast's Internet Essentials can make that first step possible, bringing broadband into the home," said Will Saunders, broadband policy and programmes director at the Washington State Dept. of Commerce.
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. Going forward, Comcast has 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.
The MSO also has upgraded the package to include doubled broadband speeds, to up to 3 Mbps downstream and up to 768 Kbps upstream. And, the free Internet safety software now includes the Constant Guard Protection Suite, which includes top-rated Norton Security Suite, identity theft protection and more.
Comcast has also kicked off 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.
Internet Essentials offers residential Internet service to eligible households for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes with a guarantee of no price increases, no activation fees and no equipment rental fees. It also includes a voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 plus tax.
Comcast will sign up eligible families in the programme 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.