By Lauren Musso
While the world has gone digital, many lower-income families are unable to, causing them to fall victim to the increasing digital divide. Although many of these children have broadband Internet access at school, few are afforded the same luxury at home. Limited access to the digital tools that have become commonplace in today’s society puts kids at risk of falling behind. Comcast, however, is partnering with the FCC to generate a solution to the lack of life-changing technology among the low-income families of metro Atlanta.
On Monday, August 8, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President David Cohen announced the launch of Internet Essentials, a broadband adoption experiment intended to expand Internet usage among low-income families. The comprehensive program addresses primary barriers to broadband usage: a lack of understanding of Internet usage and relevance, as well as home computer and Internet service costs.
Internet Essentials offers low-income families $9.95 a month residential Internet service, a low-cost home computer voucher, and access to free digital literacy training. Participants will not be charged activation or equipment rental fees and are not subject to price increases.
To qualify for Internet Essentials, families must have a child who qualifies for free school lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). There are currently 317,000 families throughout the 28 metro-Atlanta area school districts that qualify for free lunch under NSLP; 86,336 of these families reside in DeKalb and Fulton counties.
“While America has increasingly become a digital nation, many low-income metro-Atlanta families are being left at a disadvantage, because they don’t have Internet service at home,” said Mayor Reed. “The city of Atlanta is proud to pledge our support, but we can’t do this alone. We need parents, educators, community leaders, and other government officials to join in this effort, spread the word, and help increase broadband adoption in our community.”
In addition to meeting NSLP requirements, potential program participants must reside where Comcast offers Internet service. They must not have subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days, have overdue bills, or unreturned equipment.
According to Cohen, “The Internet is a great equalizer and a life-changing technology. Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their school’s educational resources, as well as enabling parents to receive digital literacy training, so they can do things like apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live.”
Comcast will sign up eligible families for a minimum of three years or throughout the 2013-2014 school year. Households that qualify during this three-year period will remain eligible for the Internet Essentials program until the child graduates from high school, provided the household continues to meet all program requirements.
Parents looking to enroll in the program can visit www.internetessentials.com or call 855-846-8376. For general information on Comcast’s service plan options, please visit www.comcast.com/internet-service.html.
Comcast Offers Affordable Broadband Internet for Low-Income Families
By Lauren Musso