While announcing the further expansion last week of its Internet Essentials to public housing residents in Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Seattle, Philadelphia and Nashville, Tenn., Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) said last week that 600,000 low-income families have now participated in the subsidized broadband access program.
This growth, Comcast said, has come in part because of the special efforts made by the MSO's installers, who have to go the extra mile in ramping up customers who have, in many cases, little to know experience using computers or the Internet.
The Internet Essentials program provides economically disadvantaged families with Internet access at speeds of up to 10 Mbps, as well as the option to purchase a computer for less than $150. Families served under the program are off many different ethnicities and origins. But there are some common threads, Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said in an interview with FierceInstaller.
While their children have often gained digital literacy at school, and heads of households served under the program often have experience accessing the Internet through a mobile phone, they often have little to know experience connecting a computer to a Wi-Fi network, let alone resetting a router.
That makes the initial interaction between the visiting Comcast technician and these customers crucial.
"This is often the first time they've ever had the Internet in their home," Douglas said. "They have questions as basic as, 'How do I start my computer?' and, 'How do I connect my computer to an Ethernet port?' 'How do I use Wi-Fi?' Our technicians very often have to take a few extra minutes and provide some education."
With many of the participants in the Internet Essentials program having recently immigrated from overseas, Douglas added that having a bi-lingual installer force helps.
"We have a lot of techs who speak Spanish, for example, and our materials are translated into a dozen languages," he said.
- read this Comcast press release
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