Cablefax The Magazine - September 2021 - 11

MSO Digital Equity Award
As its internet adoption program
turns 10 this year, Comcast
continues to seek out ways to bring
broadband to more homes.
While providing low-cost broadband is a huge part of Comcast's
commitment to digital equity, it's just the tip of the iceberg.
A new initiative to install WiFi in community centers to enable remote
education in low-income families, the 10-year anniversary of its
Internet Essentials program and the hire of a new executive to focus
on digital equity are among the reasons Comcast is taking home
Cablefax's inaugural MSO Digital Equity Award.
The company's Internet Essentials program has connected more
than 10 million people from low-income families to low-cost, highspeed
internet at home-most for the first time. The program also
has provided low-income Americans with 150,000 free or heavily
subsidized computers.
" Connectivity alone isn't enough. We must address the root causes
for why people do not purchase, or adopt, internet service, " says
Broderick Johnson, newly minted EVP, public policy and EVP, digital
equity, at Comcast Corp. " There are a range of reasons, including
homelessness or housing insecurity, literacy issues, language barriers,
relevance of having internet service at all, and the lack of digital
skills. These factors are all part of the equation. "
In 2020, Comcast launched Lift Zones, which provide free WiFi connectivity
for the next three years in community centers across the
country for customers and noncustomers alike. Students, veterans,
seniors, and other adults can go to a Lift Zone to get online and do
schoolwork, look for a job, learn digital skills, or connect with family
and friends. In 2021 alone, Comcast estimates the Zones will enable
students to complete more than 25 million hours of school work,
helping to make a big dent in the " homework gap, " Johnson says.
In addition to its current initiatives, Comcast is committed to investing
an additional $1 billion over the next 10 years to reach up to 50
million people from low-income families with the training, tools and
resources needed to succeed in the digital world.
The funds will include investments in critical areas such as additional
support for Comcast's Lift Zone initiative; new laptop and
computer donations; grants for nonprofit community organizations to
create opportunities for low-income people, particularly in the areas
of media, arts, technology and entrepreneurship; and continued
investment in Internet Essentials.
" Lift Zones have been really well received. What we found from
working with our nonprofit partners is that there are many reasons
why students and individuals may not be able to either have or use
an internet connection at home, " Johnson says. " We pledged to open
Cablefax: The Magazine
September 2021
Comcast surprises students
at Northeast High School in
Philadelphia with free laptops
and free Internet service from its
Internet Essentials program.
more than 1,000 Lift Zones in underserved communities by the end
of this year, and we are making great progress. You can expect to
hear more from us about this effort very soon. "
To help more people acquire digital skills, Comcast is partnering with
a host of organizations that share its commitment to creating a more
connected world. Partners include Per Scholas, NPower, Genesys
Works, Reboot Representation, Coded by Kids, and Build.
Additionally, the company is investing in the next generation of
creators through programs such as NBCU Academy, Sky's 'The Edit'
program and NBC's Female Forward program. It's also elevating
next-gen entrepreneurs via initiatives like Comcast RISE, which
offers grants, marketing services and technology upgrades to help
small business owners boost their operations. LIFT Labs gives
select entrepreneurs access to Comcast NBCUniversal's network
of partners, brands, mentors, and product experts to foster rapid
breakthroughs in connectivity, media and entertainment.
" We really take a holistic approach when it comes to digital equity,
but at the core it is about connectivity, technology, and skill building, "
Johnson says. - Cathy Applefeld Olson
FAST FACTS
„88% of customers say Comcast's Internet
Essentials service has helped them remain
connected to healthcare during COVID-19.
„240 languages are available through the
Comcast call center; seven languages are
available in its online application.
„ Comcast's online Learning Center has had 8.5
million lifetime visitors who accessed more
than 200 training videos, guides and reports.
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Cablefax The Magazine - September 2021

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