(Photo by Flickr user Ryan Hallock, used under a Creative Commons license)
Comcast announced Tuesday that it has expanded its Internet Essentials program, a low-cost internet offering for economically disadvantaged residents, to include all qualified low-income households in its service area.
The Philly-based comms giant estimates that nearly 3 million more households will now be able to take advantage of the program, in addition to an existing 2 million that have joined since the program’s start.
The program launched in Philadelphia in 2011, following FCC requirements made in response to Comcast’s purchase of a majority stake in NBC Universal. The program allows folks to purchase a computer for less than $150 and get internet access for $9.95 a month plus tax.
To be eligible, applicants need to show they are participating in one of more than a dozen government assistance programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Supplemental Security Income.
Comcast said since the program launched, 8 million low-income individuals have been connected to the internet, many for the first time in their lives.
“This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal we set eight years ago, which was to meaningfully and significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans,” said David L. Cohen, senior executive VP and chief diversity officer of Comcast NBCUniversal.
The company estimates that with the expansion, more than 3 million additional low-income households, including households with people with disabilities, are now eligible to apply. In years prior, expansions to the program included offering the service to low-income seniors and veterans.
So far in 2019, the program has connected around 72,000 households in Philadelphia, and about 170,000 households statewide, a Comcast spokesperson said.
The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials and nonprofit community partners.
“The Internet is arguably the most important technological innovation in history, and it is unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource,” Cohen said.-30-
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