Comcast adds 2000 low-income Johnson City customers to internet

Joanna Estrada
August 16, 2018

According to a progress report released Monday, the company has connected more than 6 million Americans - 2 million in the a year ago alone - through Internet Essentials, which provides low-priced internet and digital literacy training. The company also announced it will significantly expand eligibility - for the eleventh time in seven years - to low-income veterans, almost one million of whom live within the Comcast footprint, including 20,000 in the state of Tennessee. Now the company will make the program available to military veterans, adding another million customers to the Internet Essentials roster.

Comcast voluntarily started Internet Essentials in 2011 as part of its commitment to the Federal Communications Commission in order to get its merger with NBC Universal approved. And it has been extending the reach of the program.

Cohen said though that the true impact he's learned about the program is from the families who benefit from internet access.

Although Comcast says the 15 mpbs speeds allow low-income subscribers to do most anything with the Essentials subscription, it shows that more investments and help from public officials can still be needed to give all city residents equitable broadband access.

Internet Essentials provides low-priced, high-speed Internet service for $9.95 per month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150; and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online and in person.

For nearly a decade politicians and policy makers in Washington, DC have been talking about closing the digital divide.

The company cites figures from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2016 American Community survey, which say that less than 70% of low-income veterans have internet access and 40% don't own a computer. It's not surprising given that the price of most broadband service is about $50 to $60 a month. The cost of a computer and knowledge of how to use the technology are also factors.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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