FCC chairman Julius Genachowski praised Comcast Sept. 24 for a program that provided low-income Americans with discounted broadband service.
The program, Internet Essentials, originally targeted 2 million families that qualify for the free school lunch program to receive broadband service for $9.95 per month, $150 personal computers and digital literacy training. Early this year, Comcast expanded the program to 300,000 additional families that receive reduced price school lunches and doubled the speed of broadband service offered. Since launching the program in 2011, 400,000 families have taken advantage of Internet Essentials.
“I commend Comcast for stepping up its original commitment,” said Genachowski.
In remarks given at the Comcast Internet Essentials Event, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, in Washington, D.C., the chairman said it is important for eligible families to sign up for programs like Internet Essentials because being online “is essential to full participation in our 21st century economy.”
While broadband adoption rates are up by about 10 percent among Latinos and African Americans over the past few years, more needs to be done, said Genachowski. “Thirty percentof Americans still don't have broadband at home,” he said. “This matters more every day as the costs of digital exclusion continue to rise.”
According to Genachowski “almost all Fortune 500 companies” post job openings exclusively online, and nearly eight in 10 jobs over the next decade will require digital skills, he said. “Broadband gives every American with an Internet connection access to a world of new
opportunities that otherwise would be beyond their reach,” said Genachowski.
Programs like Internet Essentials and Connect2Compete, a national non-profit organization working to shrink the digital divide, “reflect the best in public-private partnerships to address pressing national issues,” he added.
“Internet Essentials and Connect2Compete are making a real impact, connecting hundreds of thousands of Americans to our digital economy and society.”