Comcast Corp. expanded its discounted Internet Essentials program to older Philadelphians, the company said Thursday.
The cable giant launched the program for older residents in Seattle, San Francisco, and Palm Beach County, Fla., last year and then agreed during cable-TV franchise negotiations with Philadelphia officials to add it here.
Internet Essentials entails high-speed broadband service for $10 a month and since its inception in 2011 had been available only to low-income families with schoolchildren.
Comcast did not have an estimate on how many Philadelphians at least 62 years old would be eligible. The program is being implemented by the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, a nonprofit that funds programs and advocates for seniors.
Internet Essentials won't be available for older residents in the Pennsylvania suburbs or South Jersey because it was negotiated as part of the Philadelphia franchise renewal, officials said.
Older Philadelphians looking to apply can call 1-855-848-6348. To qualify, an individual needs to be enrolled in federal or state aid programs that include Medicaid, Section 8 housing assistance, and food stamps.
"We're very excited that thousands of Philadelphians will get their first chance ever to access affordable internet," said Hannah Sassaman, policy director for the nonprofit Media Mobilizing Project.
Separately, Comcast said it wired the Philadelphia Zoo for free WiFi for the public, similar to SEPTA stations.
Comcast also is sponsoring a social-media challenge in which people can post zoo pictures using #sendakid so that 10,000 low-income children can visit the zoo for free.