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Comcast Plans D.C. Internet Essentials Public Launch

Comcast continues its Internet Essentials nationwide rollout Sept. 20 in Washington, a company spokesperson confirms, with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski scheduled to join Comcast EVP Cohen at an event at Ballou High School in Southeast D.C.

Internet Essentials is Comcast's program to provide low-cost ($9.95 a month) broadband to homes with students eligible for free school lunch programs for as long as the children are in the home.

Comcast rewired D.C. for broadband in 2002, starting in Southeast D.C., and is returning there to launch its effort to spur adoption.

The Internet Essentials program is already available nationwide, and the company plans to release info on the progress of getting out the word on the campaign next week.

The D.C. event follows other local public launches in Chicago, Miami and last week in Comcast's Philly home base.

At a digital back-to-school event in D.C. last week, Genachowski talked about broadband connectivity as a key to connecting kids with the best teachers and curricula, no matter where they lived or went to school, as well as reducing back strain by replacing 50-pound backpacks with tablets.

The Comcast program addresses the issue of avoiding a digital education divide based on affordability.

"One challenge is equal access. One-third of Americans still haven't adopted broadband at home. For Latinos or African-Americans, that number is closer to one-half," the chairman said last week. "That's why we've launched a task force with leaders of the private sector to increase broadband adoption and boost digital literacy, so that all Americans can enjoy the benefits of broadband."