Comcast’s Internet Essentials, which provides affordable Web service to low-income American families, is doubling download speeds and offering free Wi-Fi.
Previously, families had to have at least one child eligible for the National School Lunch Program to sign up for the $9.95 per month Internet Essentials. Now, if a kid goes to a school where at least half of the students are eligible for the National School Lunch Program, all student families are automatically qualified for Comcast’s program.
Comcast has also doubled download speeds from up to 5 Mbps to up to 10 Mbps, at no additional cost, and will provide participants with a free Wi-Fi router.
“I’ve seen first-hand the power that the Internet has to transform lives, strengthen communities, and inspire a new generation of leaders,” Comcast Community Investment Chief Diversity Officer David Cohen wrote in a blog post. “It levels the playing field by creating greater access to education, healthcare, employment opportunities, news, information, and entertainment.
Since it started in 2011, Internet Essentials has connected 500,000 families, or 2 million-plus Americans, Comcast said today.
Comcast said that Internet Essentials will help people cut down on wireless data use, as they connect their devices to Comcast’s Wi-Fi while in the home. Low-income Americans often rely solely on smartphones for Internet access, as many cannot afford to pay for a cell phone plan and wired, broadband service.
To that end, Comcast will expand Internet Essentials beyond children and families to include senior citizens in a new pilot program.
“When seniors are on the wrong side of the digital divide, it can be isolating,” Cohen said. “We’re excited about this opportunity to bring the power of the Internet to this new demographic, so they can stay in touch with family and friends and learn how to do things online like enroll in health care and pay bills.”