As part of its offer to gain approval for its acquisition of a controlling interest in NBC Universal, Comcast Corporation offered to do what it could to close the digital divide, by making it easier for low-income households to become broadband adopters.
The program is called Internet Essentials. According to a report from Fierce Wireless, Comcast’s David L. Cohen stated, “Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their schools’ educational resources. The program will enable parents to receive digital literacy training so they can do things like apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live.”
At an unveiling event held at a Washington DC high school, Genachowski said, “This past January, Comcast made a voluntary commitment to the FCC and to the American people to provide discounted broadband service to millions of low-income Americans. Thanks to continued follow through, here we are – 9 months later – at the national launch of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program that aims to provide high-speed Internet to millions of households – and millions of children. We know that the three biggest barriers to broadband adoption are cost, digital literacy, and relevance – that many Americans don’t see broadband as relevant to their lives. The Internet Essentials program takes big steps to address these issues. By helping to close the adoption gap, this program will prepare the next generation, create new opportunities for more jobs and economic growth, and will make a positive difference in the lives of many Americans.”
The program, naturally, must be in a Comcast service area. It is available to any household with a child eligible to participate in a school lunch program, and hasn’t signed up for Comcast internet service during the prior 90 days. The household must also have its account with Comcast up-to-date – no overdue bills or unreturned equipment.
What Comcast will provide is an internet connection for $9.95/month plus taxes, a low-cost computer voucher for $149.99 plus tax, and access to digital literacy training either in print, online or in person.