Readers often ask us about the status of the various cheap internet programs being offered around the country. We’re happy to report some impressive numbers for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.
Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen recently got together with a beaming group of community leaders to celebrate that double the number of Washington, DC families as are now participating in the company’s cheap internet program compared to last year.
We have to admit that the statistics they presented are pretty impressive:
In just under two years Comcast’s Internet Essentials has brought broadband service to the homes of more than 220,000 families (or nearly 900,000 Americans) across the nation. That includes more than 5,000 families (or more than 20,000 residents) in the Washington, DC area.
“Compared to a year ago we have more than doubled the number of families here in the D.C. area who are now able to complete school assignments, access government resources, apply for jobs and scholarships and pay bills at home,” Cohen boasted. He added that Washington, DC schools, community organizations, legislators and other partners are helping Internet Essentials program close the digital divide between rich and poor.
Comcast is joining forces with DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative to bring broadband to the District’s Kenilworth-Parkside neighborhood. For example, 300 families with children who attend certain local schools will receive a free computer as soon as they enroll in Internet Essentials. And that’s just the beginning. Comcast and DCPNI will also sponsor digital literacy training courses to show residents how to land jobs online.
“The partnership between Comcast and the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative does more than create greater learning opportunities for the children and families of Kenilworth-Parkside, it serves as a model for the rest of the nation about the role and impact the business community can have,” said Alma J. Powell, chair of America’s Promise Alliance and honorary chair of DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI). She believes that cooperative efforts like the one in Washington, DC can bring about huge changes for children across America.
Washington, DC mayor Vincent Gray also got into the act. “I applaud DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative and its partners for providing students and their families across the District with the resources they need to succeed in a competitive, technology-driven world,” he said.
It looks like Internet Essentials is really on a roll. Last year, the number of Washington, DC families participating in Internet Essentials jumped more than 60%. The national numbers are equally impressive: 50,000 new families have signed up every six months since Internet Essentials was launched and that pace appears to be accelerating because 70,000 new families signed up in the first half of 2013.
The good news just keeps on coming: Comcast reports that it has given out 18,000+ computers, provided online training for almost 20,000 people, promoted Internet Essentials in 4,000+ school districts (that translates to 30,000+ schools), aired 2 million public service announcements, and worked hand-in-hand with almost 7,000 community based organizations, agencies, and officials across America.
We’re happy to say that Comcast isn’t just spreading the program across the country, they’re improving it as they go. They’ve increased its download speed to 5 Mbps and one Mbps.
Increased Speed – For the second time in two years, Comcast has increased its broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers to up to 5 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. They’ve made it easier to enroll by expanding the instant approval process. The broadened eligibility rules to include parochial, private, cyberschool and homeschooled students. They’ve made it easier to apply online with simple English and Spanish forms that can be accessed by any internet-capable computer, tablet or smartphone.
And perhaps best of all, they’ve introduced Internet Essential Opportunity Cards that can be used toward the cost of paying for Internet Essential services.
We could complain that not enough eligible Americans have signed up for cheap internet service yet, but we can’t complain that Comcast isn’t doing everything it possibly can to solve that problem.