Comcast testifies to IL House Economic Justice & Equity Committee about its Commitment to Providing Internet access in low-income communities
August 8, 2018 – Comcast government affairs manager Kaleshia “Kay” Page testified this morning to members of the Illinois House of Representatives about the success of the company’s long-term efforts to close the digital divide in Illinois and across the nation.
In her testimony to the House Economic Justice & Equity Committee, Page described how the company’s Internet Essentials program, which provides broadband Internet service to eligible low-income families for $9.95 per month, has helped millions of people across the country – hundreds of thousands in Illinois alone — gain access to the Internet at home, “many who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford it – or would have had to make a choice between Internet service and another expense.”
In addition to Internet service, participants can purchase a computer for $150 through the program if they want. The program includes free digital literacy training to make sure participants have the skills to access and use the Internet safely and effectively.
According to Page, Comcast has continually enhanced the program since its inception in 2011. “We increased the download speed four times over the last seven years – to its current 15 megabits per second. In addition, we added free in-home WiFi, so participants can access the Internet throughout their homes. And recently, we gave participants 40 hours of free access per month to our Xfinity WiFi network, which includes more than a million WiFi hotspots in Illinois and 19 million in locations across the country.”
When the program began, it was available to households with kindergarten through 12th-grade students who received free lunches at school through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) – now it’s available to students who receive reduced-price lunches through the NSLP as well. Over the years, Comcast also expanded the program to include public housing residents in Illinois and community college students in the state who receive federal Pell Grants.
Page noted that Internet Essentials is effective: Ninety-three percent of Internet Essentials participants surveyed said the program has had a positive impact on their child’s grades. Sixty-two percent said the service helped someone in their household look for or get a job.
Page said that Comcast has worked with some 900 community-based organizations, school districts and other community partners in Illinois to help spread the word about Internet Essentials. She also said that Comcast has contracted with many of the community partners to provide the free digital literacy training that’s included with the service.
Page said she and many of her fellow Comcasters, along with many of the company’s community partners, have devoted years of their careers to closing the digital divide.
“I am personally proud of Internet Essentials and the work I’ve done along with our community partners to close the digital divide,” Page said in closing. “Together, we’ve raised awareness of the program, assisted families in enrolling, partnered to educate grammar and high school students, made it just a bit easier for a Community College student to stay in school and opened up a world of possibilities to CHA and other public housing residents across the state.”
Click here to view Page’s full testimony.
For more information about Internet Essentials, visit www.internetessentials.com or call 1-855-8-INTERNET.