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Comcast reports headway in its efforts to close the digital divide

Comcast Corp. said it is trying to do its bit to help bridge the digital divide that separates rich and poor American children when it comes to Internet access.

To address that divide, Philadelphia-based Comcast debuted what it calls its Internet Essentials program just over a year ago. The program provides free digital literacy training, access to Internet service at a guaranteed price of $9.95 per month, and the opportunity for families to buy a computer for less than $150 if they don’t already have one.

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The market rate for this service is $29.95 per month.

To qualify for the special Internet Essentials rate, a family must have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program.

In a recent press release, Comcast discussed some of the early results of the program.

“In just 16 months, Internet Essentials has helped put a real dent in the digital divide and connected more than 150,000 low-income families, or 600,000 Americans, to the power of the Internet, most for the first time in their lives,” Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen said in a statement. “To put that in perspective, that’s approximately the entire population of Washington, D.C., or Boston. Internet Essentials is not just about broadband adoption, however. It’s also about what the Internet can do for families, from finding a job to completing homework to accessing vital health care resources. While we’re pleased with our progress to date, we have more work to do to bring more families into the digital age.”

In Massachusetts, more than 3,000 families have signed on to the program, Comcast said.

Chris Reidy can be reached at
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