Comcast has expanded Internet Essentials' coverage to include Federal Pell Grant recipients within areas where it's available. By doing so, it's giving undergraduates from low-income households access to low-cost internet connection at a time when they may have a huge need for it and in time for Internet Essentials' 10th anniversary. "These additional initiatives arrive as the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated far-reaching effects that disproportionately impact those who have traditionally lacked access to the tools, resources, and skills needed to get online," the company wrote in its announcement.
The Internet Essentials program launched in 2011 and has expanded its coverage several times since then until, according to the company, it has connected "a cumulative total of more than 10 million people to the internet." Earlier this year, the company doubled the package's speed, giving subscribers access to download speeds of up to 50 Mbps and uploads of up to 5 Mbps.
In addition to giving Pell Grant financial aid recipients access to Internet Essentials, Comcast has also pledged $15 million worth of internet service and equipment. Its pledge includes over 25,000 laptops that will be donated to low-income students, seniors and vets. The move is part of the company's Project UP, which is an initiative aiming to "advance digital equity." The laptops will be distributed in cities nationwide, including Houston, TX; Sacramento, CA; Seattle, WA; Philadelphia, PA; Hartford, CT; Baltimore, MD; Memphis, TN; Atlanta, GA; Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL; Jacksonville, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Oakland, CA; Boston, MA; Pittsburgh, PA; and Grand Rapids, MI.