Comcast’s Internet Essentials is on a roll and that’s good news for America’s neediest citizens. The company just announced that it has begun rolling out its low-income, high-speed Internet Essentials plan to residents of public housing.
This is remarkably good news and will help millions of poor Americans. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Public housing is one of the nation’s three main rental assistance programs, along with “Section 8” vouchers and project-based rental assistance. Public housing developments provide affordable homes to 2.2 million low-income Americans … The nation’s 1.12 million public housing units are located in all 50 states and several territories, nearly one in five of them in rural areas.”
As FierceCable.com reported, “Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) has announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to further extend its low-cost broadband service, Internet Essentials, to public housing in three regions. Under the agreement, eligibility for the subsidized program will be extended to public housing residents in Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Seattle, Philadelphia and Nashville, Tenn.”
Public housing residents in those three areas will be able to get low-cost, high-speed Internet service for just $9.95 per month. But that’s just the beginning.
This major expansion of the Internet Essentials program was revealed at Miami, Florida’s Rainbow Village public housing complex. On hand for the festivities were Comcast’s legal and regulatory affairs chief David L. Cohen, United States Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.
We wish we’d been there because it sounds like it was an exciting event — especially for the residents of the Rainbow Village public housing complex. Comcast brought in 150 Comcast technicians to install the necessary equipment for eligible residents.
“Internet access at home is essential to succeed in today’s digital world on all fronts, from employment to education,” Cohen noted in a written statement. “Unfortunately, a cruel irony is at work, as the majority of low-income families, including those in public housing, who truly need the transformative power of the Internet are not connected.”
This is just the latest expansion in Internet Essentials. When the program was rolled out a few years ago, it offered high-speed broadband service for just $9.95 per month. However, that terrific deal was only available to families with children who were receiving National School Lunch Program benefits. Later it was expanded to include students who were “eligible” for the lunch program whether the participated or not. Eligibility requirements were also broadened to included families of students in parochial schools and home schoolers. And Comcast recently announced that it was conducting pilot programs to test the possibility of including senior citizens and college students. In fact, Comcast proudly notes that it has expanded the program eight times since it was introduced five years ago.
Comcast’s expansion of the Internet Essentials program is truly vital to reducing the Digital Divide that separates rich Americans from poor. Recent statistics show that just 48% of American households with annual incomes below $25,000 can afford high-speed home internet.
Now let’s talk a little about Comcast’s expansion plans beyond Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle and Nashville. The company already offer high-speed internet in the following markets and expect the public housing rollout to occur in all these areas as quickly as Comcast and possibly make it happen:
Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Miami, Nashville, New Jersey, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Western New England
Cheers to Comcast and even bigger cheers to the underserved public housing residents who are about to receive the low-cost, high-speed Internet service they so desperately need. We sincerely hope it helps you land the jobs you need, communicate with the medical professionals upon whom you depend, and stay in touch with friends and family.
Good work, Comcast. And good luck, public housing residents.