With distance learning plans rolling out in Florida and across the country due to the coronavirus, Comcast today announced a new program for cities, schools, and nonprofits to connect large numbers of low-income K-12 students to the Internet at home.
The “Internet Essentials Partnership Program” is designed to help accelerate Internet adoption at a critical time. In nearly ten years, Internet Essentials has become the nation’s largest and most successful low-income Internet adoption program and has connected millions of people to the Internet. It offers households low-cost, broadband Internet service for $9.95/month, the option to purchase a heavily subsidized computer, and multiple options for digital literacy training. Comcast also announced today it is giving all Internet Essentials customers its innovative xFi platform, which enables parents to control and manage their children’s WiFi connected devices.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Internet Essentials Partnership Program” has already collaborated with more than 70 schools across the country. The program relies on public-private partnerships and enables entire communities to work together to coordinate funding to help connect K-12 students. Visit comcastcorporation.com/IEPP for more information.
The initiative builds on Comcast’s recent announcement that it will continue to offer, through the end of 2020, all new Internet Essentials customers two months of free Internet service and it will forgive back debt due so more families can apply.
With so many families at home, parents and caregivers need controls to manage their home WiFi connection and their children’s devices. Comcast is now providing all Internet Essentials customers free access to xFi, which is a simple, digital dashboard that enables customers to set up and manage their home WiFi.
With it, they can see what devices are connected, set safe-browsing modes so children can only access age-appropriate content, get notifications about activity on their home WiFi, and have the ability to pause devices for dinner or bedtime.
As research shows, barriers to broadband adoption are more complex than having access to an Internet connection, even when it’s heavily discounted or free. It’s also clear that no single entity can solve the digital divide alone. As a result, the success of Internet Essentials is due to partnerships with more than 10,000 government and elected officials, school districts, libraries, nonprofits, community-based organizations, and others. Collectively, they help to address the full range of barriers to broadband adoption.
Comcast also announced plans today that it will convene a series of virtual national and regional summits this fall. Each one will focus on several issues including education, broadband adoption, digital and media literacy and training, and Internet safety. In addition, this fall Comcast will publish its annual Internet Essentials progress report and relaunch its Internet Essentials Partner Portal, located at www.internetessentials.com/partner, to include case studies, research, and links to creative broadband adoption solutions. Resources there will be made free for anyone to access, including other Internet Service Providers and nonprofits.