Comcast, the largest home Internet provider, is having a difficult time bridging the digital divide in Kensington.
Introduced last fall, Comcast’s Internet Essentials program aims to provide low-income families with home Internet access for $9.95 a month rather than the usual price of about $30. Computers were also made available for $150. Comcast said over 100,000 Philadelphia residents are eligible for the program, however, since launching in September, fewer than 500 families have registered.
Kensington residents said a lack of advertising is the reason for such a low number. Many could benefit from the discount, but have never even heard of the program.
“I never seen anything about it,” Kensington resident Molly Santiago said.
A student a Prism Career Institute, Santiago said Internet access could be useful for her studies.
“I have to come home, and then the library closes at four, so it’s hard to get Internet,” Santiago said.
The Free Library of Philadelphia Kensington Branch is closed on Fridays and Sundays as well because of budget cuts. This makes finding time for Santiago to complete her work even more difficult.
Internet Essentials requires families to have children who qualify for free or reduced lunches in school.
Comcast did not want to comment on the effort but is increasing advertising in hopes of gaining more participants.
Santiago suggested television commercials as an option since she said, “That is the main thing I would see.”
Until then, the Kensington community is offering programs to allow people to explore the Internet. Both the Kensington and McPherson Square libraries offer computers for residents.
For more information on the Internet Essentials program residents can call 855-8-INTERNET.