Broadband adoption among low-income Americans has reached a new milestone, as many people will now have one less barrier to gaining access to an internet connection. Comcast announced this week that its Internet Essentials program—the largest broadband adoption program for low-income families in the U.S.—has now reached more than six million Americans.
While Internet Essentials originally began as a program to help low-income families with school-aged children gain connectivity through discounted broadband services, free training programs, and low-cost computers, Comcast has continually extended the reach of the program. Now in its seventh year, the program has expanded eligibility to include low-income senior citizens, individuals living in public housing, and now military veterans who receive federal or state aid. In the last year alone, the program connected more than two million people and experienced its largest annual increase since its inception.
The recent outreach to veterans is a critical component to closing the digital divide. Less than 70 percent of low-income veterans currently have access to the internet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and with nearly one million of them living within the Comcast footprint, the program is sure to make a significant impact. As David Cohen, Comcast's Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, said, "Veterans have stood up for our country; now it's time for us to stand up for them by providing access to life-changing digital tools and resources."
Other cable ISPs also offer low-cost internet service discount programs and digital literacy instruction. Programs like Cox's Connect2Compete and its Digital Academy, make internet access possible for low-income families, and offer resources for eligible individuals in homes, local schools and community centers. Charter, Mediacom and Midco also offer low-cost broadband services for qualifying families, and are helping to expand internet-connected households and communities across the U.S. These efforts are no doubt making a difference in internet adoption growth and in ensuring that every person has access to a connection along with the digital skills necessary to succeed.