100 million ‘offline’ Americans to get cheap broadband, digital literacy skills

To help raise awareness and connect offline Americans, Connect2Compete, a national nonprofit that aims to eliminate the digital divide, recently announced EveryoneOn, designed to help all Americans access free digital literacy training in their communities. It also will offer consumers the chance to get home broadband with access to programs providing discounted high-speed internet service and low-cost computers.

“The costs of digital exclusion—of not having access to the internet at home—are rising every day,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. “Offline Americans are missing out on opportunities in education, health care, and employment. I applaud the EveryoneOn campaign.”

The details

Low/No-Cost Internet Access– Through partnerships with local internet providers such as Freedom Pop, Comcast, and Cox Communications, Connect2Compete will connect low-income citizens to programs that offer free and low-cost internet services. In areas where FreedomPop offers coverage, the company will extend an offer for a $49 “plug and play” router (equivalent to a 50-percent discount) and free access to 1GB of wireless internet service, with the option of an additional 12GB of service for $9.99/month, including free “auto-off” defaults to prevent overages.

In addition, through partnerships with local cable companies such as Comcast and Cox Communications, eligible families will have access to high-speed internet service for $9.95/month. Cox Communications will offer its program starting in April to free school lunch participants; its program also will include a free modem and free professional installation. Comcast’s Internet Essentials program is currently available to families who have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, including public, parochial, private, and home-school students.

Affordable Computers – Through a host of hardware and software partners, including GoodPC, Comcast Internet Essentials, and Microsoft, Connect2Compete will provide the opportunity to purchase new and refurbished computers for less than $200.

Digital Skills Training– Through a nationwide network of partners, Connect2Compete will help the public find digital literacy programs in more than 21,000 libraries and training centers. The programs will provide people the opportunity to learn basic skills such as how to use a computer, navigate the web, take actions like preparing and uploading an online resume, or processing a basic internet transaction.

To help drive awareness of the free digital skills trainings, Connect2Compete and the Ad Council are also launching the nationwide public service announcement campaign, “EveryoneOn,” created pro bono by Y&R. The Ad Council is a nonprofit organization known for developing and delivering critical messages to the American public, such as Smokey the Bear’s “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires” and “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.”

The “EveryoneOn” campaign will include television, radio, and digital (mobile and web) advertisements, as well as a social media campaign designed to communicate the value of digital literacy and drive people to learn more at EveryoneOn.org or through the 1-855-EVRY1ON help line. Consumers can follow the campaign on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EveryoneOn or through Twitter at https://twitter.com/everyone_on. To view the PSA, visit EveryoneOn.adcouncil.org.

Connected Nation is an advisory member of the Connect2Compete program and is promoting its Every Community Online (ECO) program, which helps “vulnerable populations overcome top barriers to technology adoption—broadband awareness, technology training, computers ownership, and subscription affordability.”

ECO has trained more than 115,000 people. Surveys of those trained in Ohio reveal more than 60 percent are willing to subscribe to home broadband after taking the free courses.

Connected Nation also offers discount computers and internet training as a partner in many Lifeline pilot program recipients.

Meris Stansbury

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