Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Comcast Launches Internet Essentials for Families at Reduced Costs

Today, communities need to have digitally literate populations to succeed. The role the Internet plays in the classroom, workplace, and at home cannot be understated. For students the Internet is the dictionary, encyclopedia, library, and tutor all rolled into one. For their teachers it provides new tools and resources without adding new budget items. For families the Internet allows them to track and participate in their child’s education.

In conjunction with the 2011 “Back to School” season, Comcast will launch Internet Essentials, a groundbreaking program to close the digital divide by bringing the Internet home to families with a child receiving a free school lunch under the National School Lunch Program.

Traditional approaches to close the digital divide have focused on the creation of public computer labs at schools, libraries, and community centers. These often come with additional costs for service, equipment, and staffing, and still leave children and their families without access during off hours.

"We will require a national commitment to make this work because the individual initiatives out there are not moving the needle fast enough," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in an interview with Reuters.

Genachowski said the FCC will work with the industry and local governments to address affordability, relevance, digital literacy and trust, all issues that have held back broadband adoption. Comcast Internet Essentials is a new approach that focuses on working with legislators, policy makers, and educators to provide access at home.

Comcast Internet Essentials will provide eligible families with affordable home Internet service ($9.95 per month), a low-cost computer ($149.99 plus taxes), and digital literacy training.

David Cohen, Comcast Executive Vice President, stated, “We are very excited about this program because it has the potential to have a real impact on not only the lives of the family and children who access broadband, but also on their communities as those children grow up to be doctors, lawyers, and engineers.”

Policy makers, elected officials and educators can all help to make this program a success by raising awareness about broadband adoption and its benefits for families, as well as sharing information about the Comcast Internet Essentials program with colleagues and qualifying families.

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