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Comcast Launches Year 2 of Internet Essentials Program
[September 13, 2012]

Comcast Launches Year 2 of Internet Essentials Program

Sep 13, 2012 (Close-Up Media via COMTEX) -- Filemon Lopez, Comcast Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations, announced year two of Internet Essentials, a broadband adoption program designed to help close the digital divide for low-income Americans, on Saturday at an Internet Essentials Community Connections Summit held at the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA) Learning Center.

According to a release, the Houston Area Urban League, AAMA and Crime Stoppers of Houston were among several community partners involved in the Internet Essentials program that were on hand to conduct digital literacy workshops for participants. Workshops included Using the Internet to Find a Job, Helping Your Child Apply for College and Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet.

Comcast said Nearly 4,500 families or 18,000 people throughout the Greater Houston area have enrolled in the Internet Essentials program. In its first full year of availability, more than 100,000 families or 400,000 Americans are now online and Comcast continues to enhance the program with new features and processes designed to accelerate enrollment in the program.

"I'm proud to stand here today and say the City of Houston is helping the nation close the digital divide," said Doug Guthrie, Senior Vice President for Comcast in Houston. "But we still have work to do. There are still too many low-income families in Houston who can benefit from getting online at home. So, I'm urging parents, educators, community leaders and other government officials to press on with this effort, spread the word and help increase broadband adoption." Filemon Lopez, Comcast Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations, added, "I'd like to congratulate everyone involved for having made the Internet Essentials program such a resounding success. Cities like Houston are making a tangible difference in the lives of their students and families who are now able to go online at home and access the endless resources the Internet has to offer." Since Internet Essentials launched, Comcast noted that it 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 sites 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.

Comcast added that the Internet Essentials Program details include: 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 noted it will sign up 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 Houston, Comcast is working with a growing network of community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training. Those organizations include AAMA (Advancement for the Advancement of Mexican Americans), HAUL (Houston Area Urban League), Neighborhood Centers and Change Happens.

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