Internet Essentials releases second annual progress report

Date: 3/22/2013

SPRINGFIELD – Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen recently announced details about the Second Annual Internet Essentials Progress Report, which features key milestones for the program as well as a number of program enhancements and a new award designed to honor top-performing school districts. Internet Essentials is the nation's largest, most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative designed to help close the digital divide.

"In just 16 months, Internet Essentials has helped put a real dent in the digital divide and connected more than 150,000 low-income families, or 600,000 Americans, to the power of the Internet, most for the first time in their lives," Cohen said. "To put that in perspective, that's approximately the entire population of Washington, D.C. or Boston. Internet Essentials is not just about broadband adoption, however. It's also about what the Internet can do for families, from finding a job to completing homework to accessing vital healthcare resources. While we're pleased with our progress to date, we have more work to do to bring more families into the digital age."

Mary McLaughlin, senior vice president of Comcast's Western New England Region, said, "The Internet is a great equalizer and a life-changing technology and we're proud to have helped so many families, including many in Western Massachusetts, gain access to the Internet. We're also excited to be rolling out further enhancements that allow even more families to get connected and make it even easier for them to get access."

Included in Comcast's Second Annual Internet Essentials Progress Report are highlights of the Company's successes and achievements in the past year as well as lessons learned and new enhancements, which include:

• Expanding eligibility criteria to include parochial, private and homeschool students. This brings the estimated total number of eligible families to nearly 2.6 million.

• Creating a convenient online application request form available through to improve and accelerate the application process. The online form makes it easier and faster than ever before to register. This spring, families will be able to use computers at community centers, local libraries or from a friend to request an application online.

• Introducing Opportunity Cards that enable nonprofit organizations and others to pre-purchase Internet Essentials service in advance, for up to one year, for low-income families. This provides yet another way to accelerate enrollment by empowering community-based partners, businesses and foundations to help connect families to the Internet.

• Expanding low-cost computer options by offering customers the ability to purchase an Internet-ready desktop or laptop for less than $150, in addition to the netbooks that Comcast already offers. This partnership with Arrow (formerly Redemtech) was announced in the fall of 2012 and will be piloted in Philadelphia and Chicago before rolling out to other markets.

• Honoring the top 15 performing school districts with the Internet Essentials Gold Medal School District of Excellence Award to recognize the success of school districts nationwide and acknowledge their important role in helping to close the digital divide. In conjunction with the celebration of Comcast's 50th anniversary later this year, each recognized district will be given 50 laptops for families or schools. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2013.