With help from ConnectHome intiative, Comcast plans to close digital divide
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On July 15, Comcast and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) ConnnectHome initiative unveiled a new way to tackle the digital divide. It is now possible for public housing and HUD assisted residents living in Comcast’s service area to be eligible to apply for Internet Essentials.
Internet Essentials is Comcast’s high speed Internet adoption program that provides low cost high speed internet service as well as multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online and in person.
Originally, Internet Essentials was offered to families with children eligible to receive a free school lunch from the National School Lunch Program. It was first expanded to children also eligible for the reduced price school lunch program.
Comcast then expanded eligibility to include families with children in parochial, private, charter, and cyber schools, as well as students who are homeschooled. Last year, Comcast extended the program two more times, on a pilot basis, to low-income seniors and low-income community college students.
Through the ConnnectHome initiative, homes that are covered by Comcast’s public housing expansion in March, will also be able to apply and now have access to low-cost internet services.
“ConnectHome is opening doors of opportunity for our next generation of Americans,” HUD Secretary, Julián Castro, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids across the nation by giving them the tools to reach their full potential. We’re grateful to Comcast for joining the ConnectHome initiative, which has extended its reach to more than 1.5 million children in one short year.”
According to the statement, between 2009 and 2014, broadband service providers spent over $422 billion on capital investments, and three in four American households now use broadband at home.
Despite this progress, one in four American households still don’t access the Internet at home, particularly lower-income families with children.
“This announcement reaffirms Comcast’s determination to make a meaningful impact to close the digital divide for low-income families in this country,” Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast, David Cohen said. “This is the single largest expansion of the Internet Essentials program in its history, and we’re thrilled to be working with HUD to help connect even more families, including seniors, veterans, and adults without children, to the transformative power of having Internet service at home.”
This is the ninth time in five years Comcast has expanded eligibility for Internet Essentials. In less than five years, Internet Essentials has connected more than 600,000 low-income families to the internet, which is approximately 2.4 million Americans.