Comcast program brings Internet access to low-income homes
Youngsters in some Mon-Yough school districts get more than a free or reduced-cost breakfast or lunch because of a federal government program.
Their parents, guardians and grandp arents get a break in the cost of going online, courtesy of Internet Essentials, an 18-month-old Comcast program.
“Offering our students a way to continue learning in their own home is one step in closing the digital divide in our school district,” McKeesport Area School District spokeswoman Kristen Giran said.
In a progress report this week, Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen said Internet Essentials connected more than 150,000 low-income families, or 600,000 Americans, to the Internet in their homes, “most for the first time in their lives.”
Cohen announced changes in the program, which costs $9.95 a month for families with children in the federally-funded free or reduced lunch program at school.
Eligibility criteria will be expanded to nearly 2.6 million families with the inclusion of parochial, private and home-schooled students.
Across Pennsylvania there are more than 7,800 Internet Essentials subscribers, including 5,700 in metropolitan Philadelphia, Comcast's hometown.
In the metropolitan Pittsburgh area, a major market for Comcast, 1,568 families participate.
Some districts get more out of the program than others.
“It is a very nice opportunity for those who qualify,” Norwin coordinator of educational technology Kathy Curran said. “But the low income requirement, school-aged children requirement, and the absence of cable services in the home does limit the number of eligible Norwin families.
“Certainly it is wonderful way to get technology into the hands of students who otherwise do not have access to those resources from their homes.”
In the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, spokesman Jerry Zufelt said information was sent home to parents in all parochial schools, but only one family was signed up, at Mary Queen of Apostles School in New Kensington.
Officials in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh did not respond to a request for information by presstime, but a local agency tied to the diocese benefits from the program.
“Auberle has been a great partner in promoting the Internet Essentials program and believes in its importance,” Comcast Keystone Region vice president of public relations Bob Grove said.
“We promote it among our clients,” Auberle spokeswoman Annie Schultheis said, “because it is a great resource for a lot of our families.”
Eligible families have an option to purchase computers for $150 and get free online digital literacy training.
“Our qualifying families with free and reduced lunch is approximately 91 percent for the district, and all have the opportunity to participate in this program,” Clairton City district spokeswoman Alexis Trubiani said. “This program has allowed affordable Internet and equipment for dozens of families.”
Grove said the program has gone through a number of changes since its inception, including doubling the connection speed to 3 megabits per second.
Cohen said families can apply for the program at the InternetEssentials.com website via computers in community centers, libraries or the homes of friends.
Comcast is introducing “opportunity cards” to enable nonprofit organizations and others to prepurchase Internet Essentials service in advance, for up to one year, for low-income families.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sewer system lease could dissolve McKeesport’s municipal authority
- McKeesport, school district shore up safety at dangerous intersection
- West Mifflin Area to celebrate newest graduate’s life, legacy
- Mon River Fleet honors 2015 Women of Achievement
- Homestead residents to get emergency alerts from borough in 2016
- Casey calling for Medicare Part B freeze
- Clairton man arrested on drug, weapon charges
- Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh to rehab East McKeesport home
- Huge water tower in West Mifflin gets new look
- ‘Coffee With a Cop’ takes stress out of police relations with Elizabeth Township residents