Comcast Internet Essentials: Does it really help Philadelphians?

Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, aimed at bridging the digital divide by providing low-income customers with discounted service, has been the subject of much praise, including from Mayor Michael Nutter at last week’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

But an internal report released two weeks ago suggests that it might not serve that many local families, relatively speaking. While the the much-bandied-about figure of 41,729 households served is correct, only 463 of those are in Philadelphia County.

That ranks Philadelphia number 17 on a list of the top 20 counties enrolled in the program. Though the top three – Cook County, Illinois, Miami-Dade County, Florida and Harris County, Texas – dwarf Philadelphia when it comes to population, other counties who receive more service do not, such as DeKalb and Cobb in Georgia and Adams, Colorado, which has 441,603 residents compared to Philadelphia’s 1.5 million.

It’s not an issue of class, either – Philadelphia was ranked the poorest large city in 2011, with 27 percent of its residents living under the poverty line, according to the 2010 census.

Comcast cannot control how many people apply and from where, but the report itself identified the need for potential applicants to hear about the service “multiple times from trusted sources.” Perhaps more Philadelphians need to be made aware of this valuable program rooted in their backyard.

[h/t Technically Philly]


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