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Cable Technology Feature Article

September 20, 2011

Comcast, FCC and School Officials Launch Internet Essentials to Bridge 'Digital Divide'

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

Aiming to help close the “digital divide,” Comcast (News - Alert) Corporation, along with the Federal Communications Commission and the District of Columbia Public Schools, have formed the group Internet Essentials.

The announcement was made on Sept. 20 by Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, FCC (News - Alert) Chairman Julius Genachowski, and District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson outside Washington, D.C.

Officials said the national program will provide families with children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) with low-cost Internet service, affordable computers and digital literacy training. According to officials, the program will address what research has identified as three primary barriers to broadband adoption:

1.       A lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful; 

2.       The cost of a home computer; and 

3.       The cost of Internet service.

In addition, Cohen said that the group will help “level the playing field” for low-income families, giving them the opportunity to connect students and teachers online.

“Internet Essentials helps level the playing field for low-income families by connecting students online with their teachers and their schools' educational resources,” Cohen said in a statement. “The program will enable parents to receive digital literacy training so they can do things like apply for jobs online or use the Internet to learn more about healthcare and government services available where they live.”

During a launch event at Ballou High School in the District of Columbia on Tuesday, Cohen, Genachowski, and Henderson were joined by students, school officials, and national and local community partners.

Genachowski said the program will help prepare the “next generation” and create job opportunities.

“This past January, Comcast made a commitment to the FCC and the American people to provide discounted broadband service to millions of low-income families. Thanks to continued follow through, I'm pleased to be here today at the national launch of the new Comcast Internet Essentials program that aims to provide high-speed Internet to millions of school-age children and their families who have not adopted broadband,” Genachowski said in a statement. “The program will prepare the next generation, create new opportunities for more jobs and will make a positive difference in the lives of many Americans. I challenge other service producers to take concrete steps to help close the broadband adoption gap.”

For general information about Internet Essentials, visit www.internetessentials.com for English or www.internetbasico.com for Spanish.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TMCnet, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves