Internet Essentials, Comcast’s Internet adoption program for low-income households, has connected more than 1 million Americans, company executive vice president David Cohen announced Tuesday in testimony to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.
Now in its third year, Internet Essentials is a voluntary commitment linked to Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal that targets low-income households with school-age children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the federally assisted National School Lunch Program. Qualified households receive discounted Internet service from Comcast at $9.95 per month, the option to purchase an Internet-ready PC for under $150, and access to a free Internet training.
In August, Comcast announced it had connected more than 220,000 families and a total of 900,000 Americans.
“About 30 percent of Americans don’t have broadband Internet service at home. As the nation’s largest Internet service provider, Comcast has focused its efforts on getting these Americans online. Thanks to the help of thousands of community partners, in just over two years, we have connected an estimated 1 million low-income individuals, or more than 250,000 families, to the Internet at home,” Cohen said. “To put that in perspective, that’s more than the entire population of a city like San Francisco or a state like Delaware or Montana. However, we still have a long way to go. We are committed to working to expand and improve the program and to engaging with our nonprofit and government partners to help bridge this so-called digital divide.”
Comcast, citing a survey of Internet Essentials customers, said, 98% say their kids use the Internet for homework, while 94% feel that Internet access at home has had a positive impact on their child’s grades.
As year three of Internet Essentials got underway, Comcast added several enhancements, including a ratcheting up of the program’s max burst speeds to 5 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. That’s up from a bump to 3 Mbps down/768 kbps upstream that Comcast made last year, and well above the max speeds originally supported by Internet Essentials (1.5 Mbps/364 kbps).