Announces Launch of Additional Program Expansions for City Residents
Comcast today announced the launch of a pilot program for low-income senior citizens in Philadelphia as part of Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption program for low-income Americans. In less than five years, Internet Essentials has connected more than 600,000 low-income families to the Internet at home, benefitting more than 2.4 million Americans. In the Greater Philadelphia region more than 24,000 families, or nearly 100,000 individuals, have been connected. In fact, the School District of Philadelphia ranks third for Internet Essentials adoption, and 2015 marked the program’s most successful year ever, with Philadelphia seeing a nearly 40% increase in enrollment.
The Internet Essentials pilot program for low-income senior citizens is designed to better understand the unique challenges of helping them cross the digital divide and learn how to use the Internet. The program is being implemented in cooperation with the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and is supported by a network of referral partners.
“When seniors are on the wrong side of the digital divide, it can be isolating,” said Comcast Corporation Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer David L. Cohen. “We’re excited to bring the power of the Internet to seniors in our hometown, so they can stay in touch with family and friends, access healthcare and financial resources, and enjoy online news and entertainment.”
According to Pew Research Center, just 47 percent, or less than half, of seniors (aged 65 and older) have high-speed Internet at home. When it comes to income level, only 25 percent of seniors with household incomes below $30,000 have home broadband, compared to 82 percent of seniors with household incomes at or above $75,000.
“Of the country’s top ten cities, Philadelphia has one of largest populations of senior citizens so launching this pilot here will have a significant positive impact,” said Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) President and Chief Executive Officer Holly Lange. “PCA is thrilled to partner with Comcast and the City to help spread awareness of the many important benefits our seniors will realize with home Internet access, and to help them get connected and, as importantly, trained and comfortable using the Internet.”
In addition, Comcast announced today the launch of two programs to further expand Internet Essentials enrollment in Philadelphia. The Low-Income Broadband Access Program will make it possible for low-income Philadelphians who do not have school-age children and who are not seniors to apply through a Comcast and community-subsidized program that will be administered by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern NJ. A separate, City-subsidized fund will allow low-income Philadelphians to enroll in the program if they are otherwise eligible for any of the Internet Essentials programs but have subscribed to Comcast Internet Service within the past 90 days.
Today’s announcements follow the March launch of a pilot program with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) ConnectHome initiative, which made Internet Essentials available to public housing residents in Philadelphia.
“I’m excited to work with Comcast to help close the digital divide for more Philadelphians,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Whether parents with children, seniors, public housing residents or others in need, all of our low income residents can now take advantage of Internet Essentials to find a job, access critical information and resources or simply connect to the outside world.”
These programs were agreed upon as part of a side letter agreement to the renewed Comcast Cable Franchise Agreement that was negotiated by the City of Philadelphia and City Council in December 2015.
“Helping seniors, families and low-income Philadelphians have affordable access to the Internet is an important step in bridging the digital divide,” said 6th District Councilman Bobby Henon. “The City is appreciative of this partnership with Comcast and is looking forward to the success of these programs that put Philadelphia first in line for innovative solutions to age-old adoption challenges. And, I’m excited about the possibilities that wider broadband adoption presents for all residents.”
Internet Essentials Key Investments
Since 2011, Comcast has invested more than $280 million in cash and in-kind support to help fund digital literacy training and education initiatives, reaching nearly 4.4 million people through national and local nonprofit community partners. Through the end of February 2016, Comcast has:
- Provided more than 47,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each.
- Distributed for free nearly 51 million Internet Essentials program materials.
- Broadcast more than 8.3 million public service announcements, valued at more than $100 million.
- Welcomed 5 million visitors to the Internet Essentials websites in English and Spanish and its Online Learning Center.
- Fielded more than 3.9 million phone calls to our Internet Essentials call center.
- Made Internet Essentials available in nearly 48,000 schools in more than 5,000 school districts, in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
- Partnered with 9,000 community-based organizations, government agencies, and federal, state, and local elected officials to spread the word.
About Internet Essentials
Internet Essentials from Comcast is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption program. It provides low-cost high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150; and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person. The company is conducting Internet Essentials pilot programs for ConnectHome communities in Miami-Dade County and the cities of Nashville, Philadelphia, and Seattle; low-income senior citizens in Boston, Palm Beach County, San Francisco, and Seattle; and low-income community college students in Illinois and Colorado. In non-pilot communities, eligible families must have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, including public, parochial, private, charter, and homeschooled students. For more information, or to apply for the program, Philadelphia residents can visit www.InternetEssentials.com or call 1-855-848-6348.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.