Comcast Addresses Distance-Learning Challenges by Enhancing Internet Essentials Program for Low-Income Families

Comcast Addresses Distance-Learning Challenges by Enhancing  Internet Essentials Program for Low-Income Families

With distance learning the current reality in Portland, like much of the country, Comcast recently announced enhancements to its Internet Essentials program, designed to help accelerate Internet adoption and promote digital equity. Since 2011, Internet Essentials has offered low-income households low-cost, broadband Internet service for $9.95/month, along with the option to buy a heavily-subsidized computer, and multiple options for digital literacy training.

With the “Internet Essentials Partnership Program,” Comcast is working to accelerate Internet adoption. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 10 school districts in Oregon/SW Washington have participated in the program, which relies on public-private partnerships to provide funding to connect K-12 students at no cost to the customer.

The program builds on Comcast’s offer of two months free Internet service for new Internet Essentials customers who sign up by the end of the year. In addition, the company will forgive back debt due so more families can apply.

Most recently, Comcast announced it would provide all Internet Essentials customers free access to xFi, a simple, digital dashboard that enables customers to set up and manage their home WiFi and their children’s devices. With it, they can see what devices are connected, set safe-browsing modes so children can only access age-appropriate content, get notifications about activity on their home WiFi, and have the ability to pause devices for dinner or bedtime.

Over the past decade, Internet Essentials has become the nation’s largest low-income Internet adoption program and has connected millions of people to the Internet. Marion Haynes, Vice-President of External Affairs at Comcast Oregon/SW Washington says Comcast is partnering with non-profits and school districts across the region to ensure kids can successfully participate in distance learning. “Our Internet Essentials Partnership Program builds on our long-standing commitment to connect the unconnected and bridge the digital divide, which has become even more critical in the current COVID pandemic with families working and learning at home.”

“Comcast has been a longstanding community partner of SEI for almost two decades and the Internet Essentials program has filled a critical need for low-income families and individuals in our community,” said Tony Hopson Sr., President and CEO of Self Enhancement, Inc. “It truly is essential when so many households need access to the Internet to work from home, access virtual schooling, and schedule healthcare appointments online.”

The broadband speeds offered through Internet Essentials provides households the ability to engage in distance learning, supporting three high-quality Zoom calls at the same time or four simultaneous high-quality video calls on Skype.

Research has shown barriers to broadband adoption are more complex than having access to an Internet connection, even when it is heavily discounted or free. No single entity can solve the digital divide on its own; with the Internet Essential Partnership Program, Comcast is working in collaboration with community partners to help address those barriers so more households gain access at a need when the need is so critical.

To apply, go to