(BPT) - Tommy Collins was the first in his family to get his degree. While he finished out his senior year at home due to the pandemic, he graduated from Florida State University in May 2020. Had the pandemic happened five years prior, Collins may not have been in a position to succeed. When he was in high school, Collins had to walk miles to a downtown library every day to complete his homework, as his family couldn't afford broadband internet.
According to recent FCC data, there are still 19 million Americans, just like Collins' family, who lack a reliable internet connection. The Biden administration is looking to expand broadband access as part of its $2 trillion infrastructure plan. While the debate over the plan's details continues in Congress, companies like Comcast have been diligent about addressing digital equity. In fact, Comcast's Internet Essentials, a program that reached its 10-year anniversary in 2021, was the reason the Collins family was able to get broadband access.
Stronger internet leads to more open doors
It's so easy to take internet use for granted. It's important to remember, the internet gives people access to vital services and information, connecting them to education resources, health care, news, family and friends - and their livelihoods:
More schoolwork is online these days. Even while children return to the classroom, educators are implementing digital components into their lesson plans, with homework, tests and projects taking place online. Unfortunately, this can cause students without internet access or with a poor internet connection to fall behind. That's because low bandwidth and slow loading times can make completing assignments more challenging.
Comcast provides high-quality internet access solutions for students and families in need through its Internet Essentials package, so kids can continue learning with minimal disruption.
Telehealth has become a popular option for medical appointments, as it allows people to see specialists from the comfort of home. However, those without functioning internet can't always reap the benefits. Telehealth appointments usually take place on Zoom and Skype, via the internet. The components involved in a telehealth video call can use a lot of bandwidth. If patients don't have the time, flexibility or resources to physically get themselves to an appointment, they need to be able to access the internet.
Most people no longer obtain their news from television, radio or physical newspapers. Many read, watch or listen to it online through social media, digital publications, radar apps and other websites, all of which require internet access. For those without internet access, this can put them at a disadvantage, as it is difficult to find important information like:
- Storm warnings
- Personal finances
- Crime reports
- Community outreach events
- Breaking news
Friends and family
People haven't been able to visit their loved ones as much in the last year. Zoom and Skype have allowed people to connect using the internet with those they care about anytime, anywhere.
However, like telehealth appointments, video calls with loved ones can eat up bandwidth, making it harder for those who don't have a quality internet connections to join virtual meetups or events.
Those who qualify for Comcast's Internet Essentials Program can help keep loved ones connected through this low-cost, high-speed program. As part of their ongoing efforts to keep America connected, Comcast is committing $10 billion to reach 50 million people from low-income families with tools and resources to offer them quality internet access. Comcast is doing this by:
- Providing low-cost internet services to qualifying households.
- Equipping safe spaces with free Wi-Fi.
- Working with thousands of nonprofit community organizations, city leaders and business partners to close the Digital Divide.
- Offering assistance directly to those in need through a new Emergency Broadband Benefit.
- Assisting school districts and other organizations to quickly connect large numbers of students and families to broadband access at home through the Internet Essentials Partnership Program (IEPP). The IEPP is designed to help accelerate internet adoption at a critical time. The program provides the opportunity for school districts and other organizations to fund and quickly connect broadband access at home for large numbers of students and families.
As the world reopens, more employers are hiring - and with more incentives too, such as pay increases and signing bonuses. With more employers than ever offering flexible schedules and remote work arrangements, there's never been a better opportunity for families to increase their incomes and find employment that suits their needs. However, most job postings are online on sites like Monster, Indeed, ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn. Lack of internet access can hurt people's chances of finding, applying for and attaining these jobs. It can also potentially hinder job interviews, as some employers may still choose to conduct them virtually.
Quality connection now can lead to a lifetime of advantages
With affordable, quality internet, people can unlock the knowledge and opportunities they need to get ahead in life.
Collins said his internet connection from Comcast got him where he is today. However, his educational journey is far from over. The 21-year-old is heading back to FSU this fall to pursue a doctoral degree in counseling psychology. He hopes to one day work with children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other disorders. Whether he's attending class in person or online, Comcast supports him every step of the way.
Learn more about Comcast's digital equity commitments at corporate.comcast.com/impact/digital-equity/internet-essentials.