Serving a significant portion of Walker and Catoosa counties, the company originally launched Internet Essentials in August 2011, but recently expanded the program’s eligibility to include qualified families with students who receive free or reduced-price school lunches through the National School Lunch Program. In addition, Comcast also doubled the program’s download speeds.
“Since originally launching Internet Essentials, Comcast has experienced tremendous growth in the program,” said Jim Weigert, vice president and general manager of Comcast Chattanooga. “The eligibility change will allow more households to participate in the program, which will bring the estimated total to 2.3 million eligible families across the nation.”
Despite the program’s success during the past nine months, there are still students who do not have affordable access to the internet at home. The Pew Research Center estimates that only 45 percent of people whose annual household income is below $30,000 have broadband internet at home.
“Comcast’s Internet Essentials program has helped to fill a significant void for digital information for students in our community,” said James McKissic, vice president for the Urban League of Chattanooga. “The program has enabled parents to purchase affordable broadband internet that gives students the resources to succeed in school, as well as to take advantage of other educational opportunities. The internet is no longer simply a convenience, but rather a must-have tool for success.”
Internet Essentials participants receive residential internet service for $9.95 a month, with no price increases, no activation fees or equipment rental fees, the ability to purchase a low-cost computer and access to free digital literacy training in print, online or in person. Additional benefits include a complementary Norton Security Suite for comprehensive online security protection.
Andrea Simpson, a Fort Oglethorpe resident and Comcast Internet Essentials subscriber since November, is going back to school and uses the internet to complete her homework.
“It is extremely beneficial for our family,” she said.
A Chickamauga seventh-grader, whose family has subscribed to the service since December, also uses the internet for her homework and says it has been a huge benefit.
To qualify for $9.95 a month internet service and a low-cost computer, your household must be where Comcast offers internet service, have at least one child receiving free or reduced price school lunches through the National School Lunch Program, not have subscribed to Comcast internet service within the last 90 days and not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.
Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program through the end of the 2013-14 school year. Any household that qualifies during the three-year period will remain eligible for Internet Essentials, provided the household still qualifies for the program until that child graduates from high school.
“Even though the school year is about to end, now is a great time to take advantage of Comcast’s Internet Essentials,” Weigert said. “Internet access is a key component to staying engaged and continuing the education process throughout the summer to help ensure that students are ready for the new school year in August.”
For general information about Internet Essentials, please visit internetessentials.com for English or internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 855-765-6995.
About Comcast Cable
Comcast Corp. is one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.