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Comcast Offers Six Months of Free Internet Service for Low-Income Families in Atlanta

Comcast is offering up to six months of free Internet service to qualifying low-income families in Atlanta as part of its Internet Essentials program. The company will also donate free laptops to all students in grades 4 and 5 at Peyton Forest Elementary School.

Comcast's Internet Essentials program is intended to make Internet access at home more affordable for low-income families. First launched in 2011, the program provides broadband Internet service for $9.95 a month plus tax, as well as the option to buy an Internet-ready computer for less than $150 and free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person. To qualify for the program, families must have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program.

The goal of the program is to promote digital literacy in low-income communities, where students often lack access to computers and the Internet, resulting in the "digital divide." By offering the first six months of Internet service for free, Comcast hopes to introduce more Atlanta families to the program.

"It is clear that we have a great deal of work ahead of us if we are to bridge the digital divide in Georgia," said Meria Carstarphen, superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, in a prepared statement. "In Atlanta alone, we simply have too many families without Internet access, which encumbers students' ability to keep up with their daily school work."

The Internet Essentials program is available in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Since its inception, it has connected 350,000 families to the Internet. The city of Atlanta has "the second highest number of Internet Essentials sign-ups across all Comcast markets," according to the company. In March, Comcast announced the "indefinite continuation of Internet Essentials," beyond its original three-year commitment. With the latest announcement, the company hopes to connect an additional 5,000 families in Georgia by providing their first six months of service for free.

To promote the program, Comcast plans to work with parents, teachers, non-profit partners and elected officials, focusing on schools where 100 percent of students are part of the National School Lunch Program. The company will also air public service announcements.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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