Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and Comcast officials announced the launch of Internet Essentials, an ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption experiment. It is the first program to address three of the primary barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified - 1) a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful; 2) the cost of a home computer; and 3) the cost of the Internet service. Available to low-income families in Delaware with children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the goal of Internet Essentials is to help close the digital divide and ensure more Americans benefit from all the Internet has to offer.
"Access to the internet is important for Delaware parents looking for jobs or researching the best options for their families. Young people who enter the work world already computer literate have a head start in this digital economy," said Governor Markell. "I commend Comcast for this effort to bring broadband access into more homes and expand access to computer and digital literacy. Delaware is proud to participate."
According to David L. Cohen, Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President, "The Internet is a great equalizer and a life-changing technology. Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their schools' educational resources and by enabling parents to receive digital literacy training so they can do things like apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live."
During an Internet Essentials launch event at the Police Athletic League of Wilmington, Governor Markell, Comcast Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Public Policy Counsel (retired) Joe Waz and Comcast Vice President of Government & Regulatory Affairs Bill Kettleson were joined by Lt. Governor Matt Denn, Department of Technology and Information Chief Technology Officer Matthew Payne, Police Athletic League of Wilmington Executive Director W. "Bunny" Miller, YMCA Black Achievers Director Claire Carey, Wilmington Urban League CEO Deborah Wilson and Steve Villanueva of the Latin American Community Center.
Wilmington's Kuumba Academy Charter School was an early supporter of Internet Essentials in Delaware and one of the initial participants in the New Castle County trial that took place between April 6 and June 9, 2011. The school also played an active role in a special Internet Essentials video showcasing the Delaware initiative. (View video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIWEEOGiQc8).
"As the country increasingly becomes a digital nation, in-classroom learning is being supplemented with digital curricula and at-home assignments," said Kuumba Academy Head of School Sally Maldonado. "Internet Essentials will help more low-income families benefit from the educational resources and assistance the Internet provides."
Internet Essentials participants will receive:
• Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month + applicable taxes;
• No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees;
• A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 + tax;
• Access to free digital literacy training in print, online or in person.
Additional benefits include the NortonTM Security Suite ($160 value) for comprehensive online security protection at no additional cost.
A household is eligible to participate in the Internet Essentials program if it meets all of the following criteria:
• Is located where Comcast offers Internet service;
• Has at least one child eligible to receive a free school lunch under the NSLP; (As an example, according to the Department of Agriculture, a household of three would have to make less than $25,000 a year in income);
• Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days;
• Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.
Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program for at least three years and through the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Any household that qualifies during this three-year period will remain eligible for Internet Essentials provided the household still qualifies for the program until that child graduates from high school.
For general information about Internet Essentials, visit www.internetessentials.com for English or www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at www.internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.