Private Firm Helps Bridge Digital Divide

Private Firm Helps Bridge Digital Divide
March 5, 2013

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)

Comcast has instituted a program, now in its second year, called Internet Essentials. Its purpose is to give low-income families — those eligible for school lunch programs — affordable access to broadband technology in the home.

The program provides Internet service for $9.95 a month (plus government taxes, natch) and a $150 computer. And Comcast also provides personal service — training for families to get them up to speed with the digital age.

All this is done without taxpayer money — so no “sequester” dodge — and has impacted the lives of 150,000 families.

Says Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen:

“To put that in perspective, that’s approximately the entire population of Washington, D.C. or Boston.  Internet Essentials is not just about broadband adoption, however.  It’s also about what the Internet can do for families, from finding a job to completing homework to accessing vital healthcare resources.  While we’re pleased with our progress to date, we have more work to do to bring more families into the digital age.” 

In just two years, this program has:

•         Printed and shipped more than 25 million pieces of collateral material for free.

•         Fielded more than one million phone calls in our dedicated Internet Essentials call center.

•         Distributed more than 15,000 computers at less than $150 each.

•         Trained 10,000 people in-person about digital literacy and how to use the Internet.

•         Received more than 800,000 visitors to the Internet Essentials and Internet Basico websites.

•         Partnered with almost 7,000 community-based organizations; government agencies and federal, state and local elected officials.

Learn more about this program here — where you will be guided by the smiling face and happy voice of NBC’s Al Roker. It’s a good example of what private firms do every day, but get little attention for it because it’s not a government-run program.

In fact, it’s better — because it comes without the bloat and failure of most programs run out of Washington.

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)