Submitted by Comcast

The COVID-19 outbreak has created a large demand for internet services from families practicing social distancing and confining themselves to their homes. This creates an especially challenging situation for low-income families in Washington who may not have a consistent internet connection at home.  Comcast Washington recognizes this issue and announced immediate changes today to its Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program for low-income Americans.

This program has connected more than 340,000 Washington state residents since its inception, including more than 4,800 in Olympia and over 10,0000 people in greater Thurston County.  Effective Monday, the program will have two substantial enhancements to help these families deal with this crisis:

  1. Free Service for 60 Days: Low-income families who live in Comcast’s service area who need the program will get 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month.
  2. More Internet Speeds: Comcast is increasing Internet speeds for the Internet Essentials program for all and new and existing customers. The service will now change from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps. With this increase, Internet Essentials customers will be able to use their Internet service for all their increased needs as a result of this health crisis. This will be the new speed of the service going forward.

To make it as fast and simple as possible to access this service the company notes the following things:

  • To receive the increased Internet speeds, existing customers will not need to do anything.  The new speeds will be rolled out nationally over the next few days.
  • Comcast will send all new customers a free self-install kit that includes a cable modem with a Wi-Fi router.  There will be no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee.
  • To sign up, applicants can simply visit www.internetessentials.com.  The accessible website also includes the option to video chat with customer service agents in American Sign Language.  There are also two dedicated phone numbers 1-855-846-8376 for English and
    1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.

The full details of this news can be found on the Comcast Press Room Blog in a post by Comcast President of Consumer Services, Dana Strong

To be eligible to apply to the program, low-income applicants simply need to show they are participating in one of more of a dozen different federal assistance programs.  These include: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  A full list of these programs can be found at www.internetessentials.com.

Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified.  These include: a lack of digital literacy skills, lack of awareness of the relevance of the Internet to everyday life needs, and fear of the Internet, the lack of a computer, and cost.  As a result, the program includes: multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in person, the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for less than $150; and low-cost, high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month plus tax.  The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners.  For more information, or to apply for the program in seven different languages, please visit www.internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376.  Spanish-only speakers can also call 1-855-765-6995.

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