Comcast Expands Internet Essentials

It's increasing speeds, and adding wi-fi capabilities.

(ang intaravichian/Shutterstock)

(ang intaravichian/Shutterstock)

In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s hard to believe that there are still households in Philadelphia without Internet access. Sure, people can use 3G on wireless devices, but having high-speed Internet in the home makes it easier to do homework, connect with one another and possibly even start a business.

Comcast has been trying to close that “digital divide” for a while now with its Internet Essentials program aimed at low-income residents. On Tuesday, the company announced that it has doubled speeds for the program from 5Mbps to 10 Mbps. It also announced that it will start offering wi-fi routers at no additional cost, and is starting a pilot program aimed at senior citizens. To get the faster speeds, customers need to reboot their modems.

The program just reached a milestone — connecting 2 million people in 500,000 households. The company has invested $240 million in the program over the years, it said in a statement.

Comcast is also conducting a pilot program aimed at connecting seniors to the Internet. It starts in Palm Beach County, Fla.

“Senior citizens can be an afterthought when it comes to addressing digital literacy and use of the Internet,” said Urban League of Palm Beach County President and CEO Patrick J. Franklin. “However, the Internet has a tremendous power to help change their lives for the better by tearing down the walls that geography may have put between them and the ones they love. It can also help restore a sense of community and inclusion, bonds that can weaken as we grow older.”