Comcast has connected 30,000 Tennessee households, including 3,000 homes in Chattanooga, to its high-speed internet adoption program for low-income Americans over the past six years.
In a progress update Tuesday, the cable TV giant said 4 million Americans have benefited from Internet Essentials, the program that provides high-speed broadband to eligible households from Comcast for only $9.95 a month.
Since 2011, Comcast also has invested nearly $350 million in cash and in-kind support to fund digital literacy initiatives nationally and to offer low-cost computers to eligible schools, households and individuals, reaching nearly 5 million people through nonprofit community partners.
Comcast announced Tuesday that its Internet Essentials is being expanded to 15 megabits per second speed for downloading and 2 mbps for uploading.
"Doing so will enable more family members to connect more devices to the Internet so they can all be online simultaneously," Comcast spokeswoman Sara Jo Walker said.
Comcast also will now offer 40 hours of free out-of-home Wi-Fi access per month to the company's growing network of 18 million Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots.
Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design meant to address each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption —digital literacy, access to computer equipment, and affordable internet service. The program is also structured as a partnership between Comcast and thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners.
Comcast has provided more than 65,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each and distributed nearly 55 million pieces of Internet Essentials program material. The company also has offered Internet Essentials in more than 55,000 schools in more than 5,000 school districts in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
"The success of Comcast's Internet Essentials program has been through the united efforts of our dedicated employees, our external advocates including business, education and nonprofit partners, and the local families who recognize the importance of the internet," said Doug Guthrie, Comcast's regional senior vice president. "We're proud of the ongoing progress of Internet Essentials and that so many Tennesseans have been able to take advantage of this program."
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 423-757-6340.
This story was updated Aug. 15 at 10:25 p.m. with more information.