Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program Has Now Connected More Than 10 Million People Over the Past 10 Years, including 880,000 in Cook County Alone
March 24, 2021 – On the 10th anniversary of its Internet Essentials program, Comcast today announced it would invest $1 billion over the next 10 years to help further close the digital divide and give even more low-income Americans the tools and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world. The announcement coincides with the release of a 10-year Progress Report showing that, since 2011, the company, working in collaboration with its network of thousands of nonprofit partners, has connected a cumulative total of more than 10 million people in America – including around 880,000 in Cook County alone – to broadband Internet service at home, the overwhelming majority of whom were not connected prior to signing up. Cook County is the number one county in the nation for cumulative connects.
Comcast’s $1 billion commitment will include investments in a number of critical areas, including: additional support for its ongoing Lift Zone initiative, which establishes WiFi-connected safe spaces in 1,000+ community centers nationwide for students and adults by the end of 2021; new laptop and computer donations; grants for nonprofit community organizations to create opportunities for low-income Americans, particularly in media, technology and entrepreneurship; and continued investment in the company’s landmark Internet Essentials program. It is estimated that these new commitments will impact as many as 50 million Americans over the next 10 years. In 2021 alone, Comcast estimates students will be able to complete more than 25 million hours of remote learning lessons to further address the “homework gap” at the hundreds of Lift Zone locations that have already opened or will open soon.
“In a way, Chicago is Internet Essentials’ ‘hometown.’ A lot of program innovations and enhancements were first advanced here, ranging from the establishment of Experience Labs in several Chicago Public Library branches to the Chicago Connected initiative,” said Matthew Summy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of External and Government Affairs. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done alongside so many community-based organizations and other partners since the program started to help hundreds of thousands of Chicago and Cook County families connect to the Internet at home, many for the first time.”
“Ten years is a remarkable milestone, signifying an extraordinary amount of work and collaboration with our incredible community partners across the country,” said Dave Watson, Chief Executive Officer, Comcast Cable. “Together, we have been able to connect millions of people to the power of the Internet at home, and to the endless opportunity, education, growth, and discovery it provides. Today, we are rededicating ourselves to this mission to ensure that the next generation of students in America has the tools, resources, and abilities they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.”
“For more than a decade, Comcast has been a leader in working with communities to close the Digital Divide through its Internet Essentials program,” said Marc H. Morial, President, and CEO of the National Urban League. “From its beginning as a pilot program with the Wilmington Urban League to today, Comcast’s Internet Essentials program has transformed millions of lives by connecting low-income households to the power of broadband. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic placed a spotlight on the digital divide, for the past decade Comcast, in partnership with organizations like the National Urban League, has been leading the effort to close the digital divide, address the homework gap, and ensure low-income communities have the necessary digital skills.”
“Last year, we partnered with Comcast on a major campaign to encourage Americans to participate in the first-ever digital census,” added Rebecca DeHart, CEO, Fair Count. “We are so proud to have partnered with Comcast on this valuable work—connectivity is incredibly essential to civic participation. It gives communities a voice and it enables individuals to take part in the cultural conversations that need to take place in this country. Broadband adoption, just like census participation, can mean the difference between communities growing and thriving or being left behind. For the past decade, the Internet Essentials program has successfully helped to narrow these digital divides. We look forward to the next 10 years of Internet Essentials and join Comcast in celebrating this significant achievement.”
“For a decade Comcast’s Internet Essentials program has provided Latino families with tools and resources to access high-speed Internet at home. Hispanic Federation has been proud to partner with Comcast and work with this program to bridge the digital divide and offer Latino communities the opportunity to access health, educational, and economic resources online,” said Brent Wilkes, Senior Vice President at the Hispanic Federation. “We look forward to the next ten years of partnership with Comcast as we tackle more challenges in our ever-changing digital world.”
In addition to capturing the total number of connections Internet Essentials has provided, the 10-Year Progress Report also highlights other key metrics about the program, including having:
- Increased the program’s Internet speeds six times, from 1.5 Mbps in 2011 to 50 Mbps today, without ever increasing the price of the program, which has remained $9.95/month.
- Launched its Lift Zones program, which aims to connect more than 1,000 community centers with free WiFi by the end of 2021. Comcast already has established more than 20 Lift Zones in its Greater Chicago Region and has plans for many more.
- Developed an Internet Essentials Partnership Program (IEPP) that has signed up hundreds of schools, school districts and other organizations that have come together to help connect tens of thousands of students to the Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Comcast partnered with Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools on the Chicago Connected program, the largest IEPP in the company’s footprint. Comcast also partnered with the Housing Authority of Cook County to connect public housing residents across the county. All told, Comcast has established 65 IEPPs with school districts and other partners in the region.
- Offered 60 days of free Internet service to any new Internet Essentials customer who needed to get online during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Expanded the number of languages our Internet Essentials call center agents can speak to more than 240, plus American Sign Language, to help ensure we break down language barriers that can prevent people from applying or getting online.
- Built up an online learning center that includes more than 200 digital literacy training videos, guides, and reports that are free to anyone to use, including non-customers.
- Developed an employee network of 3,000 Internet Essentials Ambassadors who volunteer their time to help spread the word about the program in their communities.
This new commitment comes on the heels of a series of initiatives announced during the COVID-19 pandemic that reinforced the company’s commitment to addressing the digital divide and the homework gap by upping speeds to 50 Mbps downstream without changing the program’s $9.95/month price. The company also continues to offer 60 days of free Internet service to new Internet Essentials customers who sign up before June 30, 2021.
About Internet Essentials
Internet Essentials is Comcast’s signature digital equity initiative and the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. In 10 years, it has helped connect 10 million low-income Americans to broadband Internet at home, most for the very first time. Internet Essentials has a comprehensive design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption. This includes: multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in person; the option to purchase a heavily subsidized, low-cost Internet-ready computer; and low-cost, high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month, plus tax. The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners. Comcast has never raised the price of the program. For more information about Internet Essentials and Comcast’s commitment to education and digital equity, please visit https://corporate.comcast.com/education. To apply, visit www.internetessentials.com or call
1-855-846-8376 for English or 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on broadband, aggregation, and streaming with over 56 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, Peacock, NBC News, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.
With around 6,000 local employees, Comcast’s Greater Chicago Region (https://chicago.comcast.com) serves customers in central and 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.