Local students, community leaders and elected officials in Miami were the first people in the country to hear details about Comcast’s significant expansion to its Internet Essentials program.
The media and technology company is expanding eligibility for Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest, most comprehensive and most successful broadband adoption program, to include all qualified low-income households in its service area.
The expansion is the most significant change in the program’s history and Comcast estimates that nearly three million additional low-income households are now eligible to apply. This number includes nearly 360,000 residents across the state of Florida, which is ranked second in the nation in terms of overall participation in the program.
The company also announced that since August 2011, it has connected more than eight million low-income individuals to the Internet at home, most for the very first time, including nearly 880,000 in the state of Florida.
To be eligible to apply for the program, low-income applicants simply need to show they are participating in one of more than a dozen different federal assistance programs. These include Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A full list of these programs can be found at www.internetessentials.com.
“This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal we set eight years ago, which was to meaningfully and significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans,” said David L. Cohen, Comcast Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast NBCUniversal. “The Internet is arguably the most important technological innovation in history, and it is unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource. Whether the Internet is used by students to do their homework, adults to look for and apply for new jobs, seniors to keep in touch with friends and family, or veterans to access their well-deserved benefits or medical assistance, it is absolutely essential to success in our modern, digital age.”
Comcast made the expansion announcement in Miami with CareerSource South Florida. In addition, Comcast announced it will provide a $25,000 grant to CareerSource South Florida for adaptive devices and digital skills training for people with disabilities.
Following the announcement, Cohen surprised each of the more than 150 participants in CareerSource’s Tech Hire Summer Boot Camp and the Women in Tech cohort with a free laptop and six months of complimentary in-home Internet service from Internet Essentials.
“Internet access and digital literacy skills are already critical elements for the success of our local work force – and will only continue to grow in importance. We commend Comcast for its commitment to digital inclusion for all individuals and families in South Florida,” said Rick Beasley, Executive Director of CareerSource South Florida. “Our enhanced partnership will build on the success of the Internet Essentials program and allow us to make more meaningful strides towards closing the digital divide.”
That afternoon Comcast held a digital inclusion rally at Jose Marti Park in Downtown Miami with Amigos for Kids and CODeLLA. After discussing the importance of Internet access and digital literacy with more than a hundred local kids and teenagers, Cohen announced each one would receive a free laptop and six months of complimentary Internet Essentials service.
“Our longstanding partnership with Comcast has already allowed us to teach important computer skills to local youth,” said Lydia Muniz, Interim President & CEO of Amigos for Kids. “Now more of our children and families will be able to take full advantage of those skills with in-home broadband access through the Internet Essentials program.”
Internet Essentials includes multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in person, the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for less than $150; and low-cost, high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month plus tax. The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners.
For more information, or to apply for the program in seven different languages, please visit www.internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376. Spanish-only speakers can also call 1-855-765-6995.