Submitted by Comcast
On the 10th anniversary of its Internet Essentials program, Comcast today announced it would invest $1 billion over the next 10 years to help further close the digital divide and give even more low-income Americans the tools and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world. Comcast’s $1 billion national commitment will include investments in Pierce County that provide ongoing support for its Lift Zone initiative to establish WiFi-connected safe spaces in five community centers for students by the end of 2021; $111,000 in funding this year for local nonprofit community organizations to help low-income county residents; and continued investment in the company’s Internet Essentials program.
Since 2011, the company, working in collaboration with its network of nonprofit partners, has connected a cumulative total of more than 84,000 low-income residents in Pierce County – including 48,000 in Tacoma – to broadband Internet at home, the overwhelming majority of whom were not connected prior to signing up. In addition to the total number of connections Internet Essentials has provided, other key metrics about the program, including having:
- Launched its Lift Zones program, which aims to connect five community centers in Pierce County with free WiFi by the end of 2021.
- Supported the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) K-12 Internet Access Program and developed an Internet Essentials Partnership Program that offers subsidized broadband service through 14 school districts in Pierce County to help connect hundreds of students to the Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Contributions to Digital Equity programs in Pierce County to build digital literacy labs and provide digital literacy curriculum to create opportunities for low-income county residents. Funding for non-profit community organizations partners last year included the Tacoma Urban League and a Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs transition housing program in Orting.
- Provided free access to the company’s 11,666 public Xfinity WiFi hotspots in Pierce County to anyone who needs them thru June 30, 2021. The hotspots are available in outdoor and business locations, all of which can be found online at www.xfinity.com/wifi.
- Increased the program’s Internet speeds six times, from 1.5 Mbps in 2011 to 50 Mbps today, without ever increasing the price of the program, which has remained $9.95/month.
- Offered 60 days of free Internet service to any new Internet Essentials customer who needed to get online during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Built up an online learning center that includes more than 200 digital literacy training videos, guides, and reports that are free to anyone to use, including non-customers.
The Comcast commitments are projected to impact as many as 50 million Americans over the next 10 years. In 2021 alone, Comcast estimates students throughout the nation will be able to complete more than 25 million hours of remote learning lessons to further address the “homework gap” at the hundreds of Lift Zone locations that have already opened or will open soon. Comcast Lift Zones are an extension of the company’s Internet Essentials program, the largest and most comprehensive low-cost Internet adoption program for low-income Americans.
This news comes on the heels of a series of initiatives announced during the COVID-19 pandemic that reinforced the company’s commitment to addressing the digital divide and the homework gap by upping speeds to 50 Mbps downstream without changing the program’s $9.95/month price. The company also continues to offer 60 days of free Internet service to new Internet Essentials customers who sign up before June 30, 2021.
What is Internet Essentials?
Internet Essentials is Comcast’s signature digital equity initiative and the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. In 10 years, it has helped connect 10 million low-income Americans to broadband Internet at home, most for the very first time. Internet Essentials has a comprehensive design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption. This includes: multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in person; the option to purchase a heavily subsidized, low-cost Internet-ready computer; and low-cost, high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month, plus tax. The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners. Comcast has never raised the price of the program. For more information about Internet Essentials and Comcast’s commitment to education and digital equity, please visit https://corporate.comcast.com/education. To apply, visit www.internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376 for English or 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on broadband, aggregation, and streaming with over 56 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, Peacock, NBC News, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.