Comcast executive vice president David Cohen and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday visited a city library there Tuesday as part of the ceremonial kick-off of the Internet Essentials program, part of Comcast's pledge to the FCC in order to secure its joint venture with NBCU.
The nation's largest cable operator promised to provide low-cost Internet access and subsidized computer equipment to homes with children who qualified for the National School Lunch Program. Eligible households can start signing up this summer for the program, which launches with the 2011-2012 school year at the end of August or beginning of September, depending on the school district.
The program provides Xfinity Economy service for $9.95 per month with no activation or rental charges, a computer for $149.99 plus taxes if applicable, and digital literacy training. The Xfinity Economy tier offers up to 1.5 Mbps down and 384 Kbps up.
"The Internet Essentials program is a perfect example of the city's government and business community working together to craft innovative, competitive solutions to the important problems facing our citizens," said Emanuel in announcing the launch, according to a Comcast blog posting on the event.
Chicago is the site of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's annual convention in two weeks, where Emanuel is slated to appear.
Cohen pointed out Tuesday that studies show that every percentage point increase in broadband adoption translates to between 1,000 and 3,000 new jobs.