Good news for families who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide: Comcast is extending Internet Essentials, its low cost broadband adoption program, indefinitely.
The company also announced more than $1 million in grants to dozens of non-profit organizations across the country to create Internet Essentials Learning Zones, including $100,000 in grants to nonprofits in King and Pierce counties.
The grants are part of a multi-faceted Gold Medal Recognition Program for communities that have done the most to help close the digital divide.
We will announce the King County grant recipient in the coming weeks.
Awesome deal: Internet Essentials-eligible families in the Gold Medal-recognized communities of Pierce and King counties and who are not currently customers can receive six months of complimentary Internet service if they apply and are approved for the program by March 18th, 2014. (note: this has since been extended through March 25, 2014) The families simply need to call 1-855-846-8376 or visit www.InternetEssentials.com. For Spanish, they may call 1-855-765-6995 or visit www.InternetBasico.com.
Also this week, Dr. John B. Horrigan, head of research for the F.C.C.’s National Broadband Plan and a former research director with Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, released a new study of Internet Essentials customers that provides insights on policies that can inform the design of effective broadband adoption programs.
Top research findings include:
- Institutions are important drivers in encouraging non-broadband users to adopt broadband.
- 98% of families said they signed up for Internet Essentials because their kids needed it for school.
- 83% said their child’s school expected that students have online access at home.
- Training makes a difference in how people engage with the Internet.
- 48% say the most helpful way to learn new things is to teach themselves through reading or online videos.
- 29% took advantage of in-person or online training resources and these users are more likely to say the Internet helps their kids with school work, how they access government services, and look for or apply for jobs.
- Broadband adoption programs are an important resource for economic advancement.
- 62% said they needed Internet service to look for or apply for jobs.
- 57% said the Internet helped them “a lot” or “somewhat” for job searches.
Since 2011, Comcast has invested more than $165 million in cash and in-kind support to fund digital literacy initiatives nationally. Additional key program milestones and facts through the end of 2013 include:
• Comcast and its community partners have provided support for free digital literacy training and education for more than 1.6 million people.
• Broadcast more than 3.6 million public service announcements, valued at nearly $48 million.
• Sold more than 23,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each.
• Distributed more than 33 million Internet Essentials brochures at no cost.
• Welcomed more than 1.8 million visitors to the Internet Essentials websites in English and Spanish and the Online Learning Center.
• Fielded more than 1.9 million phone calls to our Internet Essentials call center.
• Partnered with more than 8,000 community-based organizations, government agencies, and federal, state and local elected officials.
• Offered Internet Essentials in more than 30,000 schools and 4,000 school districts, in 39 states and the District of Columbia.