Comcast recently announced it has now connected more than six million low-income Americans to the Internet through its Internet Essentials program, which is the largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program for low-income families in the U.S. The company connected more than two million people in the last year alone, which is the largest annual increase in the program’s history.
The company also announced it will significantly expand eligibility – for the eleventh time in seven years – to low-income veterans, nearly one million of whom live within the Comcast footprint. According to the United States Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, less than 70 percent of low-income veterans have Internet access, and about 60 percent own a computer.
“This program has had an enormous impact on millions of families and children who now have high-speed Internet at home, many for the first time in their lives,” said David L. Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer. “We’re excited to extend that same opportunity to more than one million, low-income veterans. Veterans have stood up for our country; now it’s time for us to stand up for them by providing access to life-changing digital tools and resources.”
Since 2011, Comcast has invested more than half a billion dollars to support digital literacy training and awareness, reaching more than 8.5 million low-income Americans. In addition, the company has sold more than 85,000 heavily subsidized computers.
Comcast attributes some of the recent growth of Internet Essentials to its easy-to-use mobile application, which now accounts for more than a third of all enrollments. In addition, the company released a new seven-year progress report. It contains detailed information about customer demographics and insights, as well as a history of the program’s evolution and key milestones. The company has also redesigned its Internet Essentials Learning Center with new content from Common Sense Media and ConnectSafely.org. The site now includes a variety of free videos, tools, and resources that can help individuals learn vital Internet safety and digital skills.
U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, who were recently named as ambassadors and spokespeople for the company’s corporate values initiatives, will join Cohen on a multi-city tour to visit local communities and raise awareness about the Internet Essentials program. Both were instrumental in Team USA’s defeat of Canada for the gold in the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeong Chang, and are passionate advocates for gender equity.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Comcast to help close the digital divide for families, students, seniors, and veterans,” said Lamoureux-Morando. “People without an Internet connection at home are missing out. Students need the Internet to do their homework. Parents and veterans need the Internet to more easily search and apply for jobs and access healthcare information.”
“We know how important a home Internet connection is,” added Lamoureux-Davidson. “In our lives, we’ve also learned first-hand how important it is to stand up for what you believe in. We want to encourage others to use the Internet to stand up for what they believe in and to make the world a better, fairer place, not just for themselves, but for the next generation, too. You can’t change the world if you’re not online.”
The move to extend Internet Essentials eligibility to low-income veterans is the second largest expansion in the program’s history. For details on how to apply, please visit: www.internetessentials.com/apply.
According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey, 81 percent of all U.S. households subscribe to broadband at home, but only 63 percent of households with an annual income of less than $35,000 do. To attack that problem, Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design meant to address each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified. These include: a lack of digital literacy skills, the lack of a computer, and the absence of a low-cost Internet service. The program is also structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners.