Comcast is making it easier for low-income metro Atlantans to gain internet access.

The Philadelphia-based utility company Aug. 6 announced it is significantly expanding eligibility for Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest, most comprehensive and most successful broadband adoption program in America, to include all qualified low-income households in its service area.

The expansion is the most significant change in the program’s history, and Comcast estimates that more than three million additional low-income households, including households with disabled individuals, are now eligible to apply.

In addition, the company announced that, since August 2011, Internet Essentials has connected more than eight million low-income individuals, from two million households, to the internet at home, most for the first time in their lives. This includes more than 480,000 Georgians and 336,000 metro Atlantans. The announcement follows 11 prior eligibility expansions, including last year’s extension of the program to low-income veterans.

“This expansion is the culmination of an audacious goal we set eight years ago, which was to meaningfully and significantly close the digital divide for low-income Americans,” David L. Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer of Comcast NBCUniversal, said in a news release. “The Internet is arguably the most important technological innovation in history, and it is unacceptable that we live in a country where millions of families and individuals are missing out on this life-changing resource.

“Whether the internet is used for students to do their homework, adults to look for and apply for new jobs, seniors to keep in touch with friends and family, or veterans to access their well-deserved benefits or medical assistance, it is absolutely essential to be connected in our modern, digital age.”

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 and Supplemental Security Income. A full list of these programs can be found at www.internetessentials.com.

The company already accepts applications from households that have a student eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, live in public housing or receive U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development housing assistance, including Section 8 vouchers or participate in the Veterans Pension Program, as well as low-income seniors and community college students in select pilot markets.

According to U.S. Census data, households living in cities with the highest poverty rates, are up to 10 times more likely than those in higher earning communities not to have fixed broadband at home.

Internet Essentials includes 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, visit www.internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376.

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