MIAMI, FL – August 13, 2013 — With the start of the new school year, Comcast is re-launching Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Miami Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Miami Dade League of Cities President and Miami Beach Commissioner Deede Weithorn, and Comcast Executive Vice President David L Cohen, along with civic and community leaders, today kicked off the program’s third year and announced that, in about 22 months, more than 220,000 families, benefiting an estimated 900,000 low-income Americans nationwide, now have a broadband connection at home. This includes nearly 18,700 families in the South Florida area, and nearly 30,000 in the state of Florida.
Today’s event in Miami is one of the first in a series of back to school events Comcast is hosting in 23 states across the country to raise visibility about bridging the digital divide in America and connecting more families to the Internet.
“For school students today, digital literacy is no longer an option, it is a necessity,” said Carvalho. “Our curriculum and informational systems are all rapidly moving to the digital world, which means getting students connected to the Internet becomes a more critical task.”
“Thanks to community leaders and schools nationwide, more than 220,000 families or 900,000 low-income Americans now have the opportunity to use the power of the Internet at home to get ahead in work, education, and life, just by doing things online that many of us take for granted, such as completing homework, applying for a job, researching a health condition, or paying a bill,” said Cohen. “Together, with cities like Miami, we are making real and significant progress in closing the digital divide in America.”
The momentum of Internet Essentials continues to increase. Since the program’s launch in August 2011, Internet Essentials has enrolled upwards of 50,000 new families every six months. In the last six months alone, 70,000 new families have signed up. In addition, Comcast has distributed more than 18,000 subsidized computers; trained nearly 20,000 people;publicized the program in more than 4,000 school districts and more than 30,000 schools; broadcast nearly 2 million public service announcements and partnered with nearly 7,000 community based organizations, agencies, and officials to help spread the word about the program.
2013 Internet Essentials Enhancements:
To increase enrollment and continue to help close the digital divide in America, Comcast continues to enhance Internet Essentials. This year we have:
- Increased Speed – For the second time in two years, Comcast has increased its broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers up to 5 Mbps downstream and up to 1 Mbps upstream.On September 1st, Comcast will have more than tripled the download speeds for Internet Essentials customers since the program’s launch.
- Streamlined Enrollment – Comcast has further streamlined the enrollment process by expanding the instant approval process for families whose students attend schools where 70 percent or more of the students are eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program.
- Expanded Eligibility – Comcast has expanded program eligibility criteria for the second time, to include parochial, private,cyberschool,and homeschooled students. Now, nearly 2.6 million families nationwide are eligible for Internet Essentials.
- Created an Online Application Tool –On InternetEssentials.com and InternetBasico.com, it is now easier and faster for a family to apply for Internet Essentials. This convenient online request form is available in English and Spanish and can be accessed through any Internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone. It can be used by families on computers at community centers, local libraries or at a friend’s to request an application.
- Introduced Internet Essentials Opportunity Cards – Our community partners are now able to help connect low-income families to the Internet by purchasing Opportunity Cards that can be used toward the cost of paying for Internet Essentials service.
In Florida,Comcast is working with 150 community-based organizations, including 40 in Miami, to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. These organizations include: The Miami Public Library System; Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Miami and Boys and Girls Club of Greater Miami.