Essentially connected

[Express photo illustration/File]

Telecom giant offers low-cost internet service in Southeast

Allison Busse gets it.

“You really can’t thrive in today’s 21st century economy without the internet, especially at home,” she said. “It’s really hard to write a term paper or whatever else you may be working on, without a laptop. For homework, or accessing financial documents and for searching for jobs, it’s really critical to have internet access.” 

Busse is an external affairs specialist for Comcast. The telecommunications giant provides internet, cable and phone services, among others, to consumers throughout the state. It also offers a program that provides low-cost access for residents who may have to choose between putting gas in the tank or the web in the house. 

The program is called Internet Essentials, and it offers internet access to qualified homes for $9.95 per month with no contract or credit check. In addition, qualifying families may purchase a refurbished, internet-ready laptop for less than $150, according to Comcast information. 

Subscribers also receive access to free digital literacy training in a variety of media, and up to 40 hours of Xfinity WiFi hotspot access every 30 days. 

“We try to make it really beneficial to individuals who can qualify to take advantage of the program,” Busse said.

It’s probably no surprise, but for students of all ages, at-home internet connectivity can mean the difference between completing homework on time and failing to make the grade. The New York-based research and innovation lab The Joan Ganz Cooney Center focuses on the challenges of educating kids in today’s rapidly changing media landscape. 

In 2016, the agency conducted a telephone survey of about 1,200 low- and moderate-income families with kids ages 6 to 13. The aim was to get a snapshot of not just the types of devices and internet access in respondents’ homes, but also: How their children use the internet for academic and other purposes; what keeps families from being as connected as they would like to be; the degree to which those families are able to access the internet through other venues like libraries; and how families with mobile-only ’net access differ from those with home access. 

What they found was 94 percent of families technically have internet access, but only through their smart phones and often struggle with inconsistent connectivity. In addition, 40 percent of parents without a home computer or home ’net access said the main deterrent is price.

This is despite the fact that, “Computers and online connectivity are becoming increasingly important to ensuring that educational opportunity is open to all children, regardless of their economic status,” the study found. 

In seven years, some 240,000 qualifying Colorado households have gained access through Internet Essentials. Of those, 20,000 are located in Colorado Springs, Comcast data shows; but Busse said a need still exists in the city. 

“We’re always working to make people more eligible for the program so they can benefit,” she said. 

To learn more, call 855-846-8376 or visit internetessentials.com. Assistance is available in English or Spanish. 

 

Do you qualify?

To get service through the Comcast Internet Essentials program, a household must meet one of the following criteria: 

• Have a school-aged child who qualifies for free or reduced-cost lunch
• Live in HUD-assisted housing
• Include a low-income veteran
• Include a community college student.

In addition, the households must be located within the company’s digital footprint, not have subscribed to Comcast internet within the last 90 days and must not have a balance due to the company that is less than a year old.

To register, call 855-846-8376 or visit internetessentials.com. Assistance is available in English or Spanish

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