Internet Assistance Program Has Helped Keep Connections Going, Local Man Says

Bilai Caraway on his laptop at home recently.

The first few months of the pandemic were tough for Bilai Caraway, a single father of five. He lost his job, money was tight and access to the Internet was almost as important as a roof over your head.

Caraway, a Morrisville Borough resident, used friends’ and the library’s WiFi connection as much as possible, but a pandemic shutdown made it difficult. He needed the internet for work-from-home opportunities and professional training, while his children needed it for school, entertainment, and college.

“The pandemic has brought us to a standstill and blocked many accesses for us,” he said. “Everywhere was closed and you couldn’t piggyback the WiFi”

Kümmel was looking for a cheap internet service at home.

“They would tell you it’s going to be $150,” he said, “and then it could be $180 or more.”

While interacting with the United Way of Bucks County nonprofit, Caraway heard about an Internet Essentials resident support program that was created through a partnership with the nonprofit St. Mary Medical Center and Comcast.

Comcast’s Internet Essentials program launched in 2011 and expanded during COVID-19. It has connected more than 10 million people to low-cost internet at home.

Kümmel was able to benefit from the program and receive a laptop free of charge through the United Way of Bucks County.

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“That was really helpful,” he said.

Bilai Caraway with two of his children.
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Broderick Johnson, Comcast executive vice president for public policy and digital equity, said the essential nature of the internet in modern life makes it more important than ever to keep people connected.

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“We will continue to work with nonprofits across the country to provide digital skills training so more people can learn how to take full advantage of everything the internet has to offer,” Johnson said.

Cumin now receives support from the federal Affordable Connectivity program, which offers eligible households rebates of up to $30 per month on broadband service.

The program was created through bipartisan action in Congress and celebrated at the local, county, state and federal levels.

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About 48 million families — 40 percent of households nationwide — are eligible for the federal connectivity program. Credit for eligible persons goes from the government to ISPs like Comcast or Verizon.

Those interested in the Affordable Connectivity Program can see if they qualify at GetInternet.gov.

Kümmel said he appreciates the programs that have helped his family get back on track and access the internet for school and work.

“It was a big, big help and it helped us find our bearings.”

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