Comcast Announces Expansion of Internet Essentials Program to all low-income Central Illinois Households, including more Families, Seniors and People with Disabilities

Four presenters at the Internet Essentials Champions event.

Comcast hosts seminar to train trainers to help seniors and people with disabilities access the Internet safely and securely

November 25, 2019 – Comcast announced today that since the 2011 launch of Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest, most comprehensive and most successful low-income broadband adoption program, around 880,000 Illinois residents – and nationwide, more than 8 million low-income Americans – have been connected to the Internet at home, 90 percent of whom were not connected to the Internet at home until they signed up through the program.

Comcast also announced that eligibility for the Internet Essentials program has been expanded to all qualified low-income households in Comcast’s service footprint in Central Illinois and nationally.  To be eligible, low-income applicants simply need to show they are participating in one or more of a dozen different federal assistance programs, including Medicaid, SNAP and SSI (a full list can be found at  As a result of the expansion, the program will now be available to double the number of eligible low-income households, including those with disabilities and seniors.

“This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal we set eight years ago, which was to meaningfully and significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans,” said David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast NBCUniversal.  “The Internet is arguably the most important technological innovation in history, and it is unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource.  Whether the Internet is used for students to do their homework, adults to look for and apply for new jobs, seniors to keep in touch with friends and family or veterans to access their well-deserved benefits or medical assistance, it is absolutely essential to be connected in our modern, digital age.”

To mark the expansion in Central Illinois, Comcast sponsored a train-the-trainer session recently for representatives from Family Service of Champaign County, which provides a variety of programs and services for seniors, families and individuals, and DSC of Champaign County, which helps children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live as independently as possible.  Renowned educator and trainer Anna M. Weselak, president of Weselak and Associates, which provides customized seminars and consulting on a variety of topics, led the train-the-trainer session.  The session was held at Comcast’s new Champaign Warehouse and Technical Operations Center at 506 W. Anthony Dr.

“Internet Essentials not only provides Internet service at home, it includes free digital skills training designed to teach individuals and families gaining access to the Internet for the first time how to stay safe and secure online,” said Debra Piscola, Comcast’s Senior Director of External Affairs  in Central Illinois.  “We brought in a professional trainer to make sure representatives who work directly with seniors and people with disabilities learn how best to relay cyber information and teach online safety and security skills to the individuals and families they serve.”

The curriculum focused on communicating with family and friends, using social media and online safety tips, ranging from creating passwords and using privacy settings to meeting new friends and romantic partners, dealing with spam and unsolicited emails and avoiding scams.  For more information about online safety and security, please visit

“We thank Comcast for expanding the program to the populations we support. We can all benefit from the ability to access information and services, increased learning and communication with our friends and families,” said, Danielle Matthews, Chief Executive Officer, DSC. “The train-the-trainer session was especially helpful, given that many of the people we support are growing in their online experience and need to know how to access the Internet safely and securely.”

To be eligible to apply for the program, low-income applicants simply need to show they are participating in one of more than a dozen different government assistance programs.  These include: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  A full list of these programs can be found at  Comcast already accepts applications from households that have a student eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, live in public housing or receive HUD Housing Assistance, including Section 8 vouchers or participate in the Veterans Pension Program, as well as low-income community college students in Illinois.

About Internet Essentials

Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified.  These include: a lack of digital literacy skills, lack of awareness of the relevance of the Internet to everyday life needs, and fear of the Internet; the lack of a computer; and cost of internet service.  The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials and nonprofit community partners.  For more information, or to apply for the program in seven different languages, please visit or call 1-855-846-8376.  Spanish-only speakers can also call 1-855-765-6995.

About Comcast

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses:  Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky.  Comcast Cable is one of the United States’ largest video, high-speed internet, and phone providers to residential customers under the Xfinity brand, and also provides these services to businesses.  It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the Xfinity brand.  NBCUniversal is global and operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts.  Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services.  It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed internet, phone, and wireless services.  Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights.  Visit for more information.

With more than 6,000 local employees, Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region ( serves customers in central and northern Illinois, including the Chicago area, northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan. “Like” Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region on Facebook by visiting @Comcast. “Follow” Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region on Twitter at @ComcastIllinois.

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