South Sound low-income households have a new resource to help overcome financial barriers to internet access.
Comcast announced this month it is expanding Internet Essentials, a program launched in 2011 that aims to help low-income households bridge a digital divide — namely, by offering home-based internet service for less than $10 per month, and the option to purchase an internet-ready computer for less than $150. In addition, the program works with school districts, libraries, nonprofit organizations, and others to offer free digital literacy skills training to Internet Essentials participants.
Program eligibility requires low-income applicants show proof of participation in one or more of a dozen different federal assistance programs. According to a Comcast spokesperson, the number of eligible low-income households served by Internet Essentials is doubled as a result of the program’s expansion.
More than eight-million low-income individuals from two-million households in America have participated in the program, according to Comcast. In Washington, those numbers are more than 340,000 individuals and 85,000 households, respectively.
In the South Sound, more than 13,000 households and approximately 52,000 individuals in Pierce County and more than 2,500 households and approximately 10,000 individuals in Thurston County have benefitted from the program, according to Comcast. Those numbers are more than 7,400 households and approximately 29,600 individuals in Tacoma, and more than 1,200 households and approximately 4,800 individuals in Olympia.
Roughly 43,000 households in the areas of Fort Lewis, Lakewood, and Tacoma are eligible to sign up as a result of the program’s expansion.
By expanding its Internet Essentials program, the company estimates more than three-million additional low-income households will be eligible to apply nationwide, with more than 208,000 total households and 832,000 individuals eligible in Washington.
“This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal we set eight years ago, which was to meaningfully and significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans,” said David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast NBCUniversal. “It is unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource. Whether the internet is used for students to do their homework, adults to look for and apply for new jobs, seniors to keep in touch with friends and family, or veterans to access their well-deserved benefits or medical assistance, it is absolutely essential to be connected in our modern, digital age.”
More information about the program is available online at internetessentials.com.