I’ve written about PCs for People before; they distribute refurbished computers to low income households. They have an office in St Paul and have worked with several rural communities in Minnesota as well, often with support from the Blandin Foundation. In the Twin Cities they have also offered cheap wireless Internet access – until their provider discontinued the service. It sounds like they have been able to pick up again with the help of Comcast. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…
A 2012 survey by the city of Minneapolis found that only 57 percent of residents of the Phillips neighborhood have computers with Internet access, as do 65 percent of residents on the Near North Side, compared with 82 percent of households citywide.
That’s why an 11th-hour save by Internet provider Comcast deserves our thanks. Comcast leapt in to partner with St. Paul-based PCs for People to offer 8,500 Twin Cities families low-priced Internet services that they were about to lose.
PCs for People’s executive director, Casey Sorensen, explained that along with giving away nearly 10,000 refurbished computers this year, his nonprofit has offered Internet services to thousands of low-income Twin Citians through a wireless-data network from Sprint.
Because, frankly, what good is a free computer without Internet access?
When Sprint suddenly announced it was shutting down its outdated network in early November, Sorensen scrambled to keep his clients connected.
Comcast’s “Internet Essentials” offers high-speed home Internet for $10 a month, plus free Wi-Fi, free installation and free Internet training. No contract or credit check is required, which sets it apart from other providers, Sorensen said.
Families getting wind of the news are jumping in to register.
“We’re up to 129 families,” Sorensen marveled as he moved swiftly around a packed room at Hamline-Midway Library, where a registration session was held on a recent weeknight. Balloons decorated every corner of the room; free sandwiches and bottled water were fast being gobbled up.
The article include an estimate of Comcast Essentials users in Minnesota, a number I hadn’t seen previously…
Internet Essentials already serves nearly 50,000 in the Twin Cities, Hornbacher said, “and would be happy to grow. We want to make sure we’re playing our part in helping to bridge the divide.”