In collaboration with the National School Lunch Program, Comcast is attempting to facilitate understanding about the importance of the internet by offering it at a deeply discounted rate to families in low-income situations throughout the U.S, starting with Chicago. This is, simply put, a brilliant move not only to help the economically disenfranchised, but also to bolster a floundering economy that is trying to transition from an industrial marketplace to an information and service-based market place.
Called “Internet Essentials”, the program will offer Comcast’s Xfinity Economy internet service with download speeds of 1.5 Mbps for $9.95 per month and includes a promise of no price increase and fees, along with a voucher that entitles eligible families to purchase a computer for less than $150.
The Internet Essentials idea was formed after the discovery that there are 3 major barriers to widespread broadband adoption: the cost of monthly internet service, a lack of understanding about how to use the internet and the cost of a computer.
There also appears to be a perception among some that the internet is not essential to everyday life. But national research has shown that up to 3,000 new jobs can be created with just a one percent increase in the adoption of broadband internet. However, just 45% of families with annual household incomes of less than $30,000 have internet at home.
Besides the obvious advantages to these students in educational arenas now, and the national and global marketplace later, there are several reasons why widespread adoption of broadband is an important concept. For starters, there is a definite transition our society is making toward an internet-centered playing field. We communicate, socialize, gather and disseminate news, and make all kinds of decisions based upon information we exchange on the internet.
The web is becoming a strategic tool for colleges to reach out to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend their school. We exchange money and goods, invest funds, and pay bills over the internet. We utilize cloud service personally and professionally to store vast amounts of data and images.
Marketing will never be the same now that the worldwide web is a major force for companies to reach out to potential customers. As mentioned previously we are transitioning from a manufacturing society to an economy that exchanges innovations, services and information. Make no mistake about it – the transition will continue as developing countries get better at filling the worldwide demand for manufactured goods, and at a much cheaper rate than the United States is able to.
In short, the internet is the greatest technological advancement of our time, and if our society is to succeed in its impending transition, we must equip all of our citizens to be able to exchange information digitally. And it begins by equipping our children to be able to navigate the internet and learn how to benefit from the vast opportunities available. This particular move made by Comcast, and surely to follow by other internet providers, is a reminder to all of us that becoming technically savvy is an important move both individually and corporately.
“Having access to high-speed Internet service allows children to do schoolwork, adults to find jobs and grow the city’s economy, and families to learn and explore together,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The mayor went on to elaborate on how the Internet Essentials program is a great way for city government and the business community to provide needed solutions to the problems facing the economically disenfranchised.
In addition to discounted internet access and computer voucher, eligible families will also receive computer protection via Norton’s Security Suite and 90 minutes of digital literacy training to assist them with getting the most out of the internet for schoolwork and employment search purposes.
Families who qualify must call 1-855-8-INTERNET in order to request an application to be mailed to them. In addition to a completed application, families must also attach lunch program documents from their child’s school. They will then be notified by mail regarding their application’s status in seven to ten days.
Comcast is also putting out the call to educators, community organizations and others who want to help to bring the internet to low-income families. When these individuals complete a free registration with Comcast’s Partner Portal, they can access a free suite of tools and resources to help introduce the program to their communities.
Find out of Comcast is one of the high speed internet providers in your area. Broadband companies have affordable options to get everyone connected to high speed internet.
Ruth Suelemente is dedicated to helping consumers save money on their high speed internet service plan through the use of resources available on the internet.