Comcast®, one of the cheapest cable cum internet providers, has launched “Internet Essentials Senior” program on a trial basis in Washington DC. It is a broadband internet adoption program where eligible seniors can get the broadband service at an affordable cost. In addition, they have the option of buying a PC for a low cost.
The new broadband program is presently offered to those are aged 62 years or older. Comcast’s Community Impact Director, Jessica Gappa, said, “It’s meant to help us cross the digital divide.” She said that the program, launched in 2011, started out as one focused upon students in order to “help families be connected.” There were still other populations to tap into.
“After having conversations, after getting that base of folks connected we started to see other areas and demographics that could benefit from being connected to the internet,” Gappa said. “From the D.C. area we heard feedback from local partners and officials that the senior population could use some benefits and attention.”
She also said to the extent that it is pivotal to have ears upon the ground to address the community needs, emphasizing that, “When looking at where a pilot program could be successful, you’re relying on your local partners, and there’s a really incredible senior servicing community.” The company, which offers cheapest cable packages, is equipped to also deal with the challenge of reaching out to those who may not have access to digital service.
“One of the things we did was provide a flier to senior centers across the District and to get collateral into the hands of low income senior citizens,” Gappa added. “We really do still believe in that human element. And if people want to give us a call they can do that and talk through the program.”
A 2018 survey by Pew Research Center found that eleven percent of American adults did not use the internet. Out of those, thirty-four percent of people who did not use it were aged over 65 years or more. Admittedly, this figure was 86 percent back in 2000, as per the study. Another thirteen percent of people aged 50 to 64 years did not have the internet in 2018. Income level appeared to be dividing line and around nineteen percent of non-internet people made less than 30,000 dollars a year.
The study by Pew Research Center pointed out that the number of Americans without internet has dropped significantly since it began the survey. The number of people without it was 48 percent in 2000. The cheap internet program also comes with digital literacy training for free, wherein literature can be accessed in person, in print, or online.