Technology

Miami’s low-income seniors and youth to benefit as Comcast expands Internet access

David L. Cohen, a senior executive at Comcast who oversees the company’s low-cost Internet program called Internet Essentials, and Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Internet Essentials’ national spokesperson, work with children learning digital literacy in a computer lab in Houston.
David L. Cohen, a senior executive at Comcast who oversees the company’s low-cost Internet program called Internet Essentials, and Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Internet Essentials’ national spokesperson, work with children learning digital literacy in a computer lab in Houston.

Taking aim at the digital divide, Comcast Corp. is announcing Tuesday that it is expanding its low-cost Internet program to Miami’s low-income senior citizens and sponsoring digital literacy courses for South Florida youths.

Now in its sixth year nationally, Comcast’s Internet Essentials program offers $9.95-per-month Internet, low-cost laptops and free training. It has now connected more than four million low-income Americans in one million households to Internet service at home.

“While this milestone is a wonderful moment to celebrate, it also inspires all of us to keep going to connect even more families to all that the Internet has to offer,” said David L. Cohen, Comcast’s senior executive vice president who oversees the program. He will be announcing the expansion at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami at 10 a.m. with six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Internet Essentials’ national spokesperson.

Miami-Dade is already the program’s No. 3 market in the U.S. with about 51,000 households holding 200,000 residents connected to the Internet through the program, Cohen said in an interview Monday. Last year, Comcast expanded the program to residents of public housing developments because low-income families often lack Internet access at home, putting children at a steep disadvantage for school work.

Being in a position where I can help bridge that digital divide is more rewarding than the materialistic things that come from winning a gold medal. If families and children don’t have access to the Internet at home, then there is a generation that will be left behind.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic gold medalist and Comcast spokesperson

The program’s Internet service speeds will increase to 15/2 Mbps, and Comcast will be extending access to its out-of-home Xfinity hotspots to all program participants. A new grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters will provide additional digital literacy training courses for 6,000 to 8,000 youths and their families, Cohen said. “We have found when we offer digital literacy to young people, the whole family participates.”

Comcast will be expanding its pilot program for low-income senior citizens nationally from five cities and metropolitan areas to 12, including Miami-Dade County. It is also providing a grant to the city of Miami’s Elevate Miami program for 400 digital literacy training classes for about 4,000 low-income seniors.

“Being in a position where I can help bridge that digital divide is more rewarding than the materialistic things that come from winning a gold medal,” said Joyner. “If families and children don’t have access to the internet at home, then there is a generation that will be left behind. … I think the Internet Essentials program is going to continue to change lives and put people in the driver’s seat.”   

For more information or to apply for the program, visit internetessentials.com or call 855-846-8376. Spanish-only speakers should call 855-765-6995.

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