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Comcast, Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson And Harrisburg School District Superintendent Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney Kick Off Year Two Of The Groundbreaking Internet Essentials Program Designed To Help Close The Digital Divide
Aug 28, 2012 (04:08 PM EDT)


Nationally, More Than 100,000 Families or 400,000 Low-Income Americans Have Signed Up

HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson, Harrisburg School District Superintendent Dr. Sybil Knight-Burney and Comcast Vice President of External Affairs Bret Perkins today announced year two of Internet Essentials, an ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program designed to help close the digital divide for low-income Americans.  Nearly 500 Harrisburg area residents are now online with Internet Essentials.

An event at the Boys & Girls Club of Central Pennsylvania highlighted Comcast's enhancements to the program designed to accelerate enrollment and build on the more than 100,000 families, or 400,000 Americans, who are now online nationally after the first full year of Internet Essentials availability. Similar events are being held throughout the nation, including one scheduled for Philadelphia in September.

"There is no greater divide in education today than the divide between the child who has a computer and high speed access to the educational wonders of the Internet, and the child who does not," said Mayor Thompson. "One child is mainstreamed, regardless of the income or status of his or her family, while the other child has already fallen behind the learning curve.

"The new and expanded Comcast Internet Essentials program will help level the most important playing field in education today by providing those families and children with the essentials they need to assure the student is engaged early with all the educational benefits and advantages the Internet provides."  

Added Dr. Knight-Burney: "Comcast is an important partner in promoting the district CHARGE (Connections, Healthy habits, Accountability, Responsibility, Growth and Effective instruction).  The Internet Essentials Program provides a key communication tool and strong support for our schools, families, community and student achievement."

Said Perkins, "I'd like to thank Mayor Thompson, Superintendent Knight-Burney and the Boys & Girls Club of Central Pennsylvania for their continued support of the Internet Essentials program. Cities like Harrisburg can make a tangible difference in the lives of students and families who are now able to go online at home and access the endless resources the Internet has to offer."

New in 2012:
Since Internet Essentials launched, Comcast has made a number of program enhancements including:

  • Expanded eligibility criteria to include families with children eligible to receive reduced price school lunches under the National School Lunch Program.  This means nearly 300,000 additional households are now eligible for the program, bringing the total to 2.3 million eligible families;
  • Doubled broadband speeds to up to 3 Mbps downstream and up to 768 Kbps upstream;
  • Upgraded the free Internet safety software to include the Constant Guard Protection Suite, which includes top-rated Norton Security Suite, identity theft protection and more;
  • Enriched digital literacy training efforts both online and in-person, including offering a series of short videos, featuring NBC and Telemundo news personalities Al Roker, Kate Snow, Jenna Wolfe and Jose Diaz-Balart, discussing how to use job search tools and social networking site as well as tips for what parents should know about cyber bullying;
  • Streamlined the approval process by providing an instant approval process for all students who attend schools with the highest percentage of NSLP participation, which includes Provision 2 schools;
  • Introduced a bulk order program that empowers community-based organizations to purchase Internet Essentials accounts so they can connect the eligible families they serve.

Internet Essentials Program Details:
Internet Essentials addresses three primary barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified – a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful, the cost of a home computer and the cost of the Internet service.  Program participants receive:

  • Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes;
  • No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees;
  • A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 plus tax; and
  • Access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.

A household is eligible to participate if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is located where Comcast offers Internet service;
  • Has at least one child who is eligible to receive a free or reduced school lunch under the NSLP;
  • Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days;
  • Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.

Comcast will enroll eligible families in the program for at least three years, through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any household that qualifies during this three-year period will remain eligible for Internet Essentials if at least one child eligible for a free or reduced lunch remains living in the household. 

In Harrisburg, Comcast is working with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Pennsylvania and other community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. Comcast today also presented to Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Yvonne Hollins a $15,000 Tech Club Grant for its continued work in providing Internet access to students through after-school programs.

For general information about Internet Essentials, please visit www.internetessentials.com for English and visit www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at www.internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.

About Comcast Corporation:
Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.

SOURCE Comcast