Comcast: Nearly 400K Americans participating in cheaper Internet program

After one year of service, Comcast's reduced price Internet program already covers nearly 100,000 households.

Comcast has announcing that in its first full year of availability, nearly 100,000 families -- or 400,000 Americans -- gained access to the Internet at home with the Internet Essentials.

In Chicago specifically, Comcast is working with more than 1,100 community-based organizations, school districts, faith-based organizations, elected officials to provide digital literacy training and educate community members about the Internet Essentials initiative.

Nearly 7,000 families signed on in Chicago alone, with more than 15,000 participating across the region, which encompasses most of Illinois, northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan.

Launched last summer, Internet Essentials is a program designed to bring Internet to low-income families who Comcast describes as "on the wrong side of the digital divide."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel commented in a statement on Wednesday that he is "focused on closing the digital divide throughout our city and ensuring that every family in Chicago can benefit from getting online at home."

He added that "having widespread Internet access throughout our homes and in our neighborhoods will help the city move forward and ensure that our children have brighter opportunities in the future."

Essentially, Comcast offers Internet access at just $10 per month, initially to families with children already eligible for free and reduced price lunches under the National School Lunch Program.

In January, Comcast had released a progress report about its low-cost Internet broadband initiative, which at the time had reached approximately an estimated 160,000 Americans already.

The program is available in over 4,000 school districts in 39 states and the District of Columbia in areas Comcast serves.

Comcast will continue to sign up eligible families in the program for at least three years, through the end of the 2013-2014 school year.