Comcast continues to roll out its “Internet Essentials” program, providing families with children eligible for a free lunch under the National School Lunch Program with low-cost Internet service, affordable computers and digital-literacy training.

First launched in Chicago in May (For more, see Comcast Partners With City of Chicago For Internet Program), Internet Essentials now is available in Miami; Wilmington, Del.; Hartford, Conn.; Atlanta; Pittsburgh; Charleston, S.C.; Fresno, Calif.; and Memphis, Tenn. Today, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts announced the launch of the program in the MSO’s hometown of Philadelphia.

A Comcast spokesman said the operator "will launch (Internet Essentials) in other major cities across the 39 states we serve plus D.C."

The goal of Internet Essentials is to help close the digital divide and to help ensure more Americans benefit from everything the Internet has to offer. The program addresses what research has identified as the three primary barriers to broadband adoption: 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 Internet service.?

“The launch of Internet Essentials across the United States and in Philadelphia is one of the most important community projects that I have ever been involved with at Comcast,” said Roberts in a statement. “There is no doubt that the Internet is a great equalizer and life-changing technology, and being connected to the Internet is critically important to society, our youth and our future.”

Internet Essentials participants receive:

  • Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month + applicable taxes;?
  • No price increases, activation fees or equipment rental fees;
  • ?A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 + tax; and?
  • Access to free digital-literacy training in print, online and in person.?

Wireless Important, Too

Research released today from The Phoenix Center, a non-profit organization that studies public-policy issues with an emphasis on telecommunications, finds that wireless Internet is important for job-seekers.

Building on prior research and using the 2010 Census Bureau Computer and Internet Use Supplements, Phoenix Center Chief Economist George Ford found that mobile Internet use has a positive effect on Americans who sustain active job searches, cutting in half the probability that an unemployed person will become discouraged and abandon efforts to find work. ??In addition, Ford reports that mobile Internet use by Americans reduces labor-market discouragement even more than broadband use at home.

In a number of earlier studies by the Phoenix Center, Internet use – both in the home and at such shared public locations as schools and libraries – has been shown to promote active job searches among Americans looking for work.

"This evidence on the efficacy of mobile broadband for labor-market outcomes is of significant public policy importance – particularly for parts of rural America – since mobile broadband may be the only economically feasible delivery technology," noted Phoenix Center President Lawrence Spiwak in a statement.

-Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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