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Comcast forges 2 partnerships to broaden Internet Essentials’ reach

Wed, 09/26/2012 - 3:23pm
Mike Robuck

Comcast has struck partnerships with the U.S. Department of Labor and Connect2Compete to further stretch the reach of its low-cost Internet Essentials broadband tier.

Comcast said the new partnerships would help close the gap on the digital divide by providing information about Internet Essentials’ digital literacy services to jobseekers and by offering low-income families a choice of computer equipment at an affordable price.

“We are excited to partner with the U.S. Department of Labor and Connect2Compete to ensure we have information available about Internet Essentials at American Job Centers and are able to offer affordable computer equipment options for low-income families across the country,” said Comcast executive vice president David Cohen, who blogged about the partnerships on Comcast’s blog. “As the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, Internet Essentials is helping to level the playing field for hundreds of thousands of American families.”

The U.S. Department of Labor, under Secretary Hilda Solis' leadership, has been committed to digital literacy. The partnership with the Department of Labor included putting information about Internet Essentials at American Job Centers across Comcast’s 39-state footprint. Today’s announcement followed on the heels of a partnership announced in July between Solis and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, where information for Connect2Compete was made available in American Job Centers throughout the country.

"As more job postings and job training programs move online, it is crucial that these resources remain accessible for all Americans,” Solis said. “With strong partners like Comcast, the Connect2Compete coalition is doing just that by improving digital literacy, increasing broadband adoption, expanding free computer access through public libraries and American Job Centers, and putting low-cost and high-value computer equipment within reach for thousands of families across the country.”

Comcast will also partner with Connect2Compete to offer Internet Essentials customers an opportunity to purchase a low-cost desktop or laptop through its partner Redemtech, as an alternative to the low-cost netbooks currently made available directly through Comcast’s hardware partners.

The new programs will ramp up over the course of the fall. Internet Essentials is available to families with children participating in the National School Lunch Program across Comcast’s service area, which includes 39 states and the District of Columbia.

Since the launch of the program last year, more than 100,000 families – or 400,000 Americans – have enrolled, and more than 11,000 discounted computers have been distributed.

Internet Essentials, which costs $10 a month, made its debut with a downstream speed of 1.5 Mbps, but the speed has been increased to up to 3 Mbps on the downstream and 768 kbps on the upstream.

In April, Comcast announced several enhancements to the service, including offering Internet Essentials to families that have children that receive reduced lunches at school instead of just to children who received free lunches.

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