Tennessee Ranked “Top 10” State for Internet Essentials Penetration, Progress in Closing the Digital Divide
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 4, 2015) — Comcast announced it is doubling the download speed of its Internet Essentials broadband service for low-income families and will begin providing Wi-Fi service, including a Wi-Fi router, at no additional cost.
Now entering its fifth year, Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption program and has connected more than 6,200 Nashville area families. It provides low-cost high-speed Internet service; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer at a steep discount, and multiple options for free digital literacy training.
The program was created to provide easier access to the Internet and close the so-called Digital Divide that separates communities into information haves- and have-nots based on socio-economic conditions. Internet Essentials has been available in Middle Tennessee and across Comcast’s entire service area since 2011.
“The Digital Divide isn’t confined to certain buildings or neighborhoods in Nashville or in any other city or town,” said Comcast Regional Senior Vice President Doug Guthrie. “From day one, our goal has been to make Internet Essentials available wherever inequality exists, and to keep enhancing and expanding the program to serve the broadest number of families possible across entire communities, wherever they might be located.”
“We have made significant progress against closing the digital divide for low-income parents and children across the country,” Guthrie added. “In less than four years, Internet Essentials has connected more than 500,000 families, or more than 2 million low-income Americans, to the power of the Internet at home. And we’re committed to doing much more.”
In just four years, Internet Essentials has reached nearly 20 percent of its estimated eligible population in Nashville, Tenn., which holds a ranking in the top 20 cities in the country for Internet Essentials adoption. Additionally, with a broadband penetration rate of 26.8 percent, surpassing the national average of 20 percent, Metro Nashville Public Schools has also been placed in the top 20 list as a top school district in the country for leading the way in closing the digital divide with Internet Essentials.
“High speed Internet has become a necessity for students and parents of all socio-economic backgrounds,” said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. “Programs like Internet Essentials continue to positively impact families in our community, and I commend Comcast for their role in helping bridge the digital divide.”
Since the program’s inception, Comcast has made 25 key enhancements to Internet Essentials, and this is the third time in four years Comcast has increased speeds for customers. The current speed is doubling to up to 10 Mbps downstream, which is enough to power multiple devices simultaneously. In addition, by offering Wi-Fi routers, customers will be able to connect any Internet-enabled device, including tablets and smartphones, which could help save money on monthly wireless bills.
To receive the faster Internet speed, customers simply need to reboot their cable modems. Existing customers who would like a Wi-Fi router just need to call the dedicated call center and either request to have one shipped to them for free, or they can schedule a professional installation, also for no additional cost. New customers will have the option to receive a Wi-Fi router when they sign up.
Over the life of the Internet Essentials program, Comcast has joined forces with numerous community leaders and local organizations such as Urban League of Middle Tennessee, Teach for America of Greater Nashville, PENCIL Foundation and the United Way; and has engaged 18 school systems across Middle Tennessee to create awareness and connect students and families to the Internet.
Through local grants and sponsorships, Comcast has also invested more than $50,000 a year since 2011, in support of Middle Tennessee community and education programs tied to digital literacy.