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Comcast helps California close the digital divide

Since launching six years ago, the programme has helped connect more than four million Americans to high-speed Internet service

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The state of California has connected more than 150,000 low-income households via the programme
The state of California has connected more than 150,000 low-income households via the programme

California leads the US in overcoming the digital divide with Comcast Corporation’s Internet Essentials having helped the state connect more than 150,000 low-income households, benefiting more than 600,000 Californians.


Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption programme, has also reached a significant milestone having helped to connect more than four million low-income Americans to high-speed Internet service at home in one million households.


The programme has an integrated, wrap-around design meant to address each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption: digital literacy; access to computer equipment; and affordable Internet service. The programme is also structured as a partnership between Comcast and thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and non-profit community partners.


“When we started this programme six years ago, we never imagined four million low-income Americans would benefit from it,” said David L Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer of Comcast. “We also never would have reached this milestone without our many dedicated non-profit partners, elected officials, educators, employees, and advocates who were all united by the belief that the Internet is essential, not only to compete in the 21st century economy, but also to be connected to loved ones and the world.


“While this milestone is a wonderful moment to celebrate, it also inspires all of us to keep going to connect even more families to all that the Internet has to offer for education, jobs, healthcare, news, information, and entertainment.”


Comcast also announced three enhancements to the programme:

  • It is expanding its pilot programme for low-income senior citizens from five cities and metropolitan areas to 12 – including Fresno and Santa Clara Counties. (San Francisco is already a part of the Internet Essentials low-income senior citizen pilot programm.)
  • For the fourth time in six years, Comcast will increase the programme’s Internet service speeds, this time from 10/1 Mbps to up to 15/2 Mbps. More speed was the number one requested enhancement from Internet Essentials customers, and this latest increase will improve streaming quality in the home (15 Mbps is three times the speed necessary to view a high definition video), especially when multiple devices are connected to the Internet at the same time.
  • To help family members connect to the Internet on the go and save money on their wireless bills, Internet Essentials customers also will now enjoy 40 hours of free out of home wi-fi access per month to the company’s growing network of 18 million Xfinity wi-fi hotspots. This wi-fi access is being offered in addition to the free in-home wi-fi Internet Essentials customers currently enjoy.

In addition, Comcast today announced a six-figure digital literacy investment with five key partners in Santa Clara County: African American Community Service Agency; Asian Americans for Community Involvement; ConXion, the Silicon Valley Organisation Foundation; and Somos Mayfair.


These investments will be used to help connect seniors and residents of HUD-assisted housing, including public housing and Section 8 vouchers, to the Internet Essentials programme. In addition, the company announced a donation of more than 100 computers for these organisations to give to individuals who need them, as well as six-month Internet Essentials Opportunity Cards to provide complimentary Internet service at their homes.


Cohen made these announcements in San Jose with six-time Olympic medallist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who is serving, for the second year in a row, as Internet Essentials’ national spokesperson. Cohen also introduced Adamari López, host of Telemundo’s Un Nuevo Día, who is the programme’s first ever national Hispanic spokesperson. Their visit in Santa Clara County is part of a multi-city tour, which will run through October.


López added, “I am thrilled to be joining the Internet Essentials program as the national Hispanic spokesperson. Fifty-five percent of Internet Essentials customers are Hispanic, which shows how much they appreciate the value of the Internet because it is a connection to their families and their culture.


"They also value it because of what it means for education and employment opportunities. I look forward to helping to connect even more Spanish-speakers to the amazing resources this programme offers.”



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