When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the Philadelphia area in March, telecomms giant Comcast announced that it would give away two months of free internet services through its Internet Essentials program for eligible households.
The program, launched in 2011, initially connected low-income households to affordable internet for $9.95 a month. It’s since been extended to include low-income seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.
But as more folks were forced to work from home due to the pandemic, and students even adapted to virtual learning, Comcast said in April it would extend the offer through June 30 — and then, on Thursday, it announced that the offer now stands through the rest of 2020. Folks can apply for 60 days of free Internet Essentials at any point through the end of the year, and after the two months, it will cost $9.95 a month.
“Now more than ever, connectivity has become a vital tool for families to access educational resources for students, important news and information about their community and the world, telehealth applications, or to stay in touch with family and friends,” said Dana Strong, president of Xfinity Consumer Services, in a statement.
Comcast’s LIFT Labs recently announced a new program, the LIFToff challenge, to address internet access issues. The program sought startups creating user-friendly tech and adaptive communication to keep individuals with disabilities and their caregivers connected and informed.
And recently, in response to protests after the killing of George Floyd that have raised awareness about systemic racism and police brutality, Comcast and other companies across industries have made donations to organizations advocating for social change. It includes $75 million in cash and $25 million in media that will be distributed over three years to organizations supporting underrepresented communities and will focus on social justice, employees, awareness and education, digital equity and small business opportunity.
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