Comcast is hosting a series of events across Nashville designed to throw a spotlight on the urgent need to bring more Internet access and training to local families, students and veterans.
Comcast announced it has connected more than six million low-income Americans to the Internet through its Internet Essentials program, which is the largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption program for low-income families in the U.S. This number includes more than 200,000 residents across the state of Tennessee. In the last year alone, the company connected more than two million people to the program, which is the largest annual increase in its seven-year history.
The company also announced it will significantly expand eligibility for the 11th time to low-income veterans, including one million nationally and 20,000 in the state of Tennessee. According to the United States Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, nearly a third of low-income veterans do not have Internet access, and less than 60% own a computer.
“This program has had an enormous impact on millions of families and children who now have high-speed Internet at home, most for the first time in their lives,” said David L. Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer. “We’re excited to extend that same opportunity to more than one million, low-income veterans. Veterans have stood up for our country, now it’s time for us to stand up for them by providing access to life-changing digital tools and resources.”
Tennessee Deputy Gov. Jim Henry, Comcast Senior EVP David L. Cohen and U.S. Olympic Gold Medalists Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson are revealing the launch of the Internet Essentials veterans expansion at a military appreciation event today at Operation Stand Down Tennessee, to an audience of local veterans, elected officials and community leaders. Comcast is also announcing it will provide a grant to support a new computer lab at Operation Stand Down Tennessee, specifically aimed at meeting the digital literacy needs of veterans as well as a grant for Vets Who Code for occupational technology training.
In addition, Comcast is also holding a digital literacy assembly at John Overton High School to help accelerate digital literacy efforts in the area. During the rally, 100 students will be recognized as digital ambassadors and given new laptops to encourage their engagement with the most diverse community in Tennessee. The company is also announcing it will open a computer lab at Legacy Mission Village which will encourage digital literacy for neighborhood refugee students and their families.
“Internet access levels the playing field in terms of access to opportunities,” said Nashville Mayor David Briley. “This commitment from Comcast will bridge the digital divide for many families in our community and, by doing so, provide access to information, learning and connectivity to those who often feel left behind.”
According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey, 77% of all Tennessee households subscribe to broadband at home, but only 57% of households with an annual income of less than $35,000 do. To attack that problem, Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design meant to address each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified. These include: a lack of digital literacy skills, the lack of a computer, and the absence of a low-cost Internet service. The program is also structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners.