DENVER, COLO., Apr 15, 2021 (News Direct via Comtex) -- --News Direct--
A year after Coloradans had to shift their lives to working and learning remotely, Comcast announced more than 480,000 lower income Coloradans were connected to the power of a home internet connection through its signature Internet Essentials program since 2011.
Internet Essentials is Comcast’s signature digital equity initiative and the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, providing eligible individuals with high-speed home Internet service for $9.95 per month as well as digital skills training.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Internet Essentials, and Comcast recently announced it is investing $1 billion nationwide over the next 10 years to help further close the digital divide and give even more low-income Americans the tools and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world. The announcement coincides with the release of a 10-year Progress Report showing that, since 2011, the company, working in collaboration with its network of thousands of nonprofit partners, connected a cumulative total of more than 10 million people in America to broadband Internet at home, the overwhelming majority of whom were not connected prior to signing up.
"The Internet Essentials program has made school very easy,” said Janeaya Ramos, 17-year-old Denver resident. “I don’t have to stress. When we didn’t have internet in the past, me and my sister would have to go to the library or McDonalds or something. Now that we have internet, we don’t have to worry about finding a ride somewhere, we don’t have to worry about being able to do our schoolwork.”
Comcast’s $1 billion commitment will include investments in a number of critical areas, including: additional support for its ongoing Lift Zone initiative, which establishes WiFi-connected safe spaces in 1,000+ community centers nationwide for students and adults by the end of 2021; new laptop and computer donations; grants for nonprofit community organizations to create opportunities for low-income Americans, particularly in media, technology, and entrepreneurship; and continued investment in the company’s landmark Internet Essentials program. It is estimated these new commitments will impact as many as 50 million Americans over the next 10 years. In 2021 alone, Comcast estimates students will be able to complete more than 25 million hours of remote learning lessons to further address the “homework gap” at the hundreds of Lift Zone locations that have already opened or will open soon.
In Colorado, more than 30 Lift Zone locations are serving people throughout the state , and more will be open by the end of the year.
“Ten years is a remarkable milestone, signifying an extraordinary amount of work and collaboration with community and education partners across Colorado,” said Amy Lynch, Sr. Vice President, Comcast Mountain West Region. “Together, we connected hundreds of thousands of people to the power of the Internet at home, and to the endless opportunity, education, growth, and discovery it provides. Our work is not done, and we are committed to ensuring the next generation of students in Colorado has the tools, resources, and abilities they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.”
“Our partnership with Comcast is a very complementary partnership,” said Maurice Henson, Director of Operations at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Pikes Peak Region. “Our goal at the club is to give kids opportunities that they might not otherwise have, and Comcast with their Internet Essentials program is doing that same thing.”
“For more than a decade, Mile High United Way and Comcast have been partners in this initiative,” said Christine Benero, President and CEO of Mile High United Way. “We continue to partner with Comcast to bring internet to more communities through equipping neighborhood-based Lift Zones at community centers across the state with free WiFi to support distance learning.”
In addition to capturing the total number of connections Internet Essentials has provided, the 10-Year Progress Report highlights other key metrics about the program, including:
Increased the program’s Internet speeds six times, from 1.5 Mbps in 2011 to 50 Mbps today, without ever increasing the price of the program, which remains $9.95/month.
Launched its Lift Zones program, which aims to connect more than 1,000 community centers across the country – and more than 50 in Colorado -- with free WiFi by the end of 2021.
Developed an Internet Essentials Partnership Program with more than 20 schools, school districts, and other organizations in Colorado to help connect thousands of students to the Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Offered 60 days of free Internet service through at least June 30, 2021 to any new Internet Essentials customer who needed to get online during the coronavirus outbreak.
Expanded the number of languages our Internet Essentials call center agents can speak to more than 240, plus American Sign Language, to help ensure we break down language barriers that can prevent people from applying or getting online.
Built up an online learning center that includes more than 200 digital literacy training videos, guides, and reports that are free to anyone to use, including non-customers.