With distance learning plans rolling out across the country due to the coronavirus, Comcast on August 13 announced a new program for cities, schools, and nonprofits to connect large numbers of low-income K-12 students to the Internet at home.
Comcast's “Internet Essentials Partnership Program” is designed to help accelerate Internet adoption at a critical time.
In nearly ten years, the operator notes that its Internet Essentials has become the nation’s largest and most successful low-income Internet adoption program and has connected millions of people to the Internet. It offers households low-cost, broadband Internet service for $9.95/month, the option to purchase a heavily subsidized computer, and multiple options for digital literacy training.
Comcast further announced it is now giving all Internet Essentials customers access to its xFi platform, which enables parents to control and manage their children’s WiFi connected devices. With it, parents can see what devices are connected, set safe-browsing modes so children can only access age-appropriate content, get notifications about activity on their home WiFi, and have the ability to pause devices for dinner or bedtime.
The program also includes two months of free Internet service for new Internet Essentials customers. Comcast notes its recent partnerships with schools in Chicago, Atlanta, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Portland, and Arlington, VA mean more than 200,000 qualified students now have a greater opportunity to get connected. (Visit comcastcorporation.com/IEPP for more information.)
“We’ve seen firsthand that low-cost Internet access is an important part of improving digital equity and creating positive opportunities for low-income students and families,” said Dana Strong, President of Xfinity Consumer Services. “Through this new partnership program, we are accelerating the efforts of cities, schools, philanthropies, nonprofits, and private citizens to collaborate and open the doors of Internet access for more families in need.”
The initiative builds on Comcast’s recent announcement that it will continue to offer, through the end of 2020, all new Internet Essentials customers two months of free Internet service and it will forgive back debt due so more families can apply.
Comcast also announced plans to convene a series of virtual national and regional summits this fall. Each one will focus on several issues including: education, broadband adoption, digital and media literacy and training, and Internet safety.
In addition, this fall Comcast will publish its annual Internet Essentials progress report and relaunch its Internet Essentials Partner Portal, located at www.internetessentials.com/partner, to include case studies, research, and links to creative broadband adoption solutions. Resources there will be made free for anyone to access, including other Internet Service Providers and nonprofits.