Low Income Puebloans Offered Affordable Internet Service
By Jon Pompia - The Pueblo Chieftain
In the digital age, home internet access for students has been called an educational game changer, especially in rural school districts.
And with Pueblo City Schools (D60) joining the burgeoning online education arena in the fall, internet connectivity will become more vital than ever.
Unfortunately, as much as a quarter of American households lack an internet connection, and in those homes with schoolchildren, that absence can significantly hamper their education.
Fortunately, Comcast has a solution.
Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed internet adoption program for low-income households. Designed as a comprehensive program to address the major barriers to broadband adoption, Internet Essentials offers internet service for $9.95 a month; the option to purchase an internet-ready computer for less than $150; and access to free digital literacy training in several formats.
In the seven years Comcast has offered the program, more than six million low-income Americans, in 1.5 million households, gained access to high-speed internet service at home. In Pueblo alone, 12,000 people are now connected through the program.
Nick Jimenez, Comcast’s director of government and regulatory affairs, said that “nearly a quarter of a million Coloradans have gotten online because of this program — the majority for the first time ever — but there’s much more work to be done, with a very significant opportunity in Pueblo. Lack of internet access leads to something referred to as the ‘homework gap,’ tied to the reality that nine out of ten teachers are assigning homework that needs to be accessed or submitted online.”
Back in August, Comcast announced an expanded eligibility of the program, to low-income veterans — nearly one million of whom live within the Comcast footprint. According to the United States Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, less than 70 percent of low-income veterans have internet access, with about 60 percent owning a computer.
Internet Essentials also is available for qualifying community college students in Colorado.
Eligible households must have at least one child who is eligible for the National School Lunch program, receive HUD housing assistance, or have a low-income veteran receiving state and/or federal assistance. Additionally, participating households must be in an area where Comcast internet service is available, must not have subscribed to Comcast internet within the last 90 days and cannot have an outstanding debt to Comcast less than a year old.
At schools where 40 percent or more of all students are eligible for the National School Lunch program, Comcast considers all students and families from those schools eligible to apply for Internet Essentials, as long as the other eligibility requirements are met.
For more information on the program, call 1-855-846-8376, or 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish-only speakers.