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Press release from PR Newswire

Comcast Kicks Off Year Two Of Groundbreaking Internet Essentials Broadband Adoption Program In Maryland

Friday, September 28, 2012

Comcast Kicks Off Year Two Of Groundbreaking Internet Essentials Broadband Adoption Program In Maryland10:30 EDT Friday, September 28, 2012Company Joins Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to Recognize Winner of Attendance Competition and to Highlight Internet Essentials Program EnhancementsBALTIMORE, Sept. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Comcast today kicked off year two of Internet Essentials, an ambitious and comprehensive broadband adoption program currently available to low-income families across Maryland.  Bret Perkins, Vice President of External and Government Affairs for Comcast Corporation, highlighted several new enhancements to the program at a special event held at Westside Elementary where Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recognized students for winning a competition for the most improved school attendance. Comcast provided the school with a $1,000 grant in honor of this achievement, and shared additional information about Internet Essentials with students and parents. To date, more than 100,000 families - or more than 400,000 Americans - have been connected to the Internet through Internet Essentials. In its second year, Comcast continues to enhance the program with new features and processes designed to accelerate enrollment.Perkins said, "The Internet Essentials program is designed to help bridge the digital divide and connect more lower-income families to the ever-expanding resources and opportunities available to them today through the Internet. In our second year of the program, we remain deeply committed to helping even more families get connected, and are grateful for the ongoing support we've received from our government, school and community partners across the state of Maryland and beyond." "In Baltimore City, we work hard to ensure our students are well-equipped with the tools and incentives they need to succeed in the classroom," said Mayor Rawlings-Blake.  "Internet Essentials is helping them to continue the learning process and practice crucial digital literacy skills at home through access to the Internet and its wealth of educational resources online, and I applaud Comcast for bringing such a valuable program to our community." New in 2012:Since Internet Essentials launched, Comcast has made a number of program enhancements including:Expanded eligibility criteria to include families with children eligible to receive reduced price school lunches under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).  This means nearly 300,000 additional households are now eligible for the program, bringing the total to 2.3 million eligible families; Doubled broadband speeds to up to 3 Mbps downstream and up to 768 Kbps upstream; Upgraded the free Internet safety software to include the Constant Guard Protection Suite, which includes top-rated Norton Security Suite, identity theft protection and more; Enriched digital literacy training efforts both online and in-person, including offering a series of short videos, featuring NBC and Telemundo news personalities Al Roker, Kate Snow, Jenna Wolfe and Jose Diaz-Balart, discussing how to use job search tools and social networking sites as well as tips for what parents should know about cyber bullying; Streamlined the approval process by providing an instant approval process for all students who attend schools with the highest percentage of NSLP participation, which includes Provision 2 schools; Introduced a bulk order program that empowers community-based organizations to purchase Internet Essentials accounts so they can connect the eligible families they serve. Internet Essentials Program Details:Internet Essentials addresses three primary barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified: a lack of understanding of how the Internet is relevant and useful, the cost of a home computer and the cost of the Internet service.  Program participants receive: Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month plus applicable taxes; No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees; A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 plus tax; and Access to free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.A household is eligible to participate if it meets all of the following criteria: Is located where Comcast offers Internet service; Has at least one child who is eligible to receive either a free or reduced price school lunch under the NSLP; Has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days; Does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment.Comcast will sign up eligible families in the program through the end of the 2013-2014 school year.  Any household that qualifies will remain eligible for Internet Essentials if at least one child eligible for either a free or reduced price school lunch remains living in the household.  In Maryland, Comcast is working with a growing network of community-based organizations to spread the word about Internet Essentials and provide digital literacy training.  Those organizations include Associated Black Charities, Boys & Girls Clubs, Coppin State University, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Living Classrooms Foundation, The Family League and United Way of Central Maryland.For general information about Internet Essentials, please visit www.internetessentials.com for English and visit www.internetbasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at www.internetessentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995. About Comcast Corporation:Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.SOURCE ComcastFor further information: Aimee N. Metrick, Vice President, Public Relations, +1-301-836-9314, aimee_metrick@cable.comcast.com, or Alisha Martin, Senior Manager, Public Relations, +1-410-513-3155, alisha_martin@cable.comcast.com