[dropcap]C[/dropcap]omcast today announced that since August 2011, its nationally acclaimed broadband adoption program, Internet Essentials, has connected more than 450,000 families, or 1.8 million low-income Americans, to the power of the Internet at home, with Florida playing a huge role in the program’s success.
The South Florida area is second in the nation for connecting families to Internet Essentials from Comcast, with more than 41,500 families or 166,000 low-income Floridians – 28 percent of its eligible population. In addition, Florida has more lifetime Internet Essentials connections than any other state, with more than 62,500 families or 250,000 low-income Floridians, which is equivalent to connecting the entire City of Orlando.
In 2014, Comcast launched four Internet Essentials Digital Learning Zones in South Florida at ASPIRA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade, Chapman Partnership and Overtown Youth Center (OYC). Through the end of February 2015, Comcast has dedicated $1 million in grants to create digital learning zones across the country where networks of non-profit partners are working together to enhance public Internet access and increase family-focused digital literacy training and education.
“The Comcast Internet Essentials Digital Learning Zone that was established last year at Overtown Youth Center helps us primarily in two ways – it not only provides the children and families we serve with much-needed online access, but it also ensures they understand how to use the Internet effectively and safely,” said Alonzo Mourning, OYC founder and former Miami Heat star. “The Internet Essentials program then takes that a step further by helping these families get connected to broadband services in their own homes.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho have partnered with Comcast to promote Internet Essentials to students and families since the program launched in 2011.
“Internet access is a necessity for South Florida students to succeed in today’s digitally connected world,” said Carvalho. “Comcast’s Internet Essentials program provides broadband service at home to many area families who otherwise may not be able to afford this resource.”
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) reports that broadband adoption for low-income households has been increasing but for certain low-income groups it still falls more than 20 percentage points behind the general population.
Through Internet Essentials, Comcast has sought to directly address the primary barriers to broadband adoption for low-income students and their families, investing more than $225 million in cash and in-kind support to help fund digital literacy and readiness training and education, reaching more than 3.1 million people through our national and local non-profit community partners.
Dr. John B. Horrigan, America’s preeminent researcher on broadband adoption and utilization and former head of research for the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, recently completed his second study of Internet Essentials customers. Called Deepening Ties, it examines the evolution from broadband non-adopters to adopters. Two of the most striking findings include:
· The real key to economic and personal empowerment through broadband adoption is training and education. Those who received formal digital training, like the kind provided by non-profits through the Internet Essentials program, were 15 percentage points more likely to use the Internet to look for a job.
· Almost two-thirds of Internet Essentials families said Internet Essentials helped them manage their work schedules and better balance their work/life responsibilities.
The report further underscores how important the Internet is for 21st Century job readiness and STEM education, as well as for economic and personal empowerment.