Comcast today made several announcements that build on its longstanding commitment to advancing digital equity, closing the digital divide, and addressing both digital literacy and the homework gap. The new and expanded efforts are designed to help connect as many Americans to the Internet as possible and create new opportunities for underrepresented communities through the education, resources, and skills training they need to succeed in today's digital economy.
"We've been on a mission to address digital inequities in under-resourced communities through Internet Essentials for a decade and there's never been a greater need than now," said Dave Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Comcast Cable. "As a media and technology company, we have a unique opportunity to provide meaningful connection to the communities we serve - whether that's through access to the Internet, programs to support creativity and digital literacy and skills training for young people, or workforce development opportunities for adults. Our commitment has never been stronger, and we are dedicated to leveling the playing field and making a lasting impact for generations to come."
Accelerating the Nation's Largest Broadband Adoption Program
For more than a decade, Comcast has focused on connecting millions of low-income families to the Internet through Internet Essentials, the largest and most comprehensive low-cost Internet adoption program for low-income Americans. Since 2011, Comcast has connected millions of people to the Internet at home, donated tens of thousands of free laptops to students and families across the country, and invested $700 million in digital literacy, skills training and awareness programs that have reached 11 million people. Comcast is now doubling the program's Internet download speed to 50 Mbps and increasing the upstream speed to 5 Mbps for all new and existing customers at no additional cost. To receive the increased Internet speeds, existing customers will not need to do anything. The new speeds will be rolled out nationally beginning March 1. This is the sixth time in 10 years that Comcast has increased broadband speeds for Internet Essentials customers while keeping the cost of the service at $9.95 a month. In addition, Comcast rolled out its xFi and xFi Advanced Security product features to Internet Essentials customers for free and the company continues to offer 60 days of free service to any new Internet Essentials customer who signs up before June 30, 2021.
Launching 1,000 Lift Zones by December 2021
Comcast recently announced a multiyear program to launch more than 1,000 Lift Zones in community centers across the country by working with its network of thousands of nonprofit partners and city leaders. So far, Comcast has installed several hundred Lift Zones to further address the homework gap. Lift Zones provide safe spaces for students to access free WiFi so they can participate in distance learning and do their schoolwork. Comcast is now accelerating that timeline to connect 1,000 Lift Zones by the end of this year - more than a year ahead of its original plan.
Note that we launched our first six lift zones in Tennessee this year: https://south.comcast.com/2021/01/18/comcast-joins-community-organizations-to-launch-connected-lift-zones-in-greater-nashville-neighborhoods/
We are opening more in Tennessee the near future.
Investing in Education and Equity-Focused Organizations
Comcast is also expanding its targeted philanthropic investments in organizations working to increase digital equity and contributing to the collective action needed to drive sustained change. These new organizations and investments are focused on creating greater pathways to opportunities for communities of color, particularly in media, technology, arts, and entrepreneurship.
Since last year, Comcast has committed more than $40 million in cash to education and equity-focused partners that share the company's goals of advancing social justice and equality. A selection of these partners include Per Scholas, Coded by Kids, Center for Black Innovation, Inner-City Arts, and BUILD.org. As part of the $40 million, Comcast today announced $3.5 million in commitments to partners including CodePath, Genesys Works, Jobs for the Future, NPower, i.c. stars, Opportunity at Work, Goodwill, YWCA, and Philadelphia Youth Network. Together, Comcast and its partners are helping more people of color gain the education and critical workforce development skills needed to access career opportunities in media and technology.
This local release will show some of our recent investments in Tennessee to address digital equity:
Comcast Introduces The Fastest Internet Speeds Over Wi-Fi Across Tennessee
Comcast announced today that in March it will introduce the fastest speed over Wi-Fi available in Tennessee. Customers will be able to take advantage of advanced Wi-Fi technology that is capable of delivering speeds faster than a Gig to support the ever-increasing number of connected devices in their homes. The upgrade to the Xfinity Gigabit service is part of a national rollout that began recently in the company's Northeast markets.
Additionally, effective immediately, Tennessee's Xfinity Extreme customers will see their download speed increase from 300 Mbps to 400 Mbps, followed by automatic upgrades to the company's Extreme Pro packages from 600 Mbps to 800 Mbps later in the first quarter of 2021. The upgrades will be made at no additional cost to customers in Tennessee who will benefit from the new speeds.
"We recognize that Comcast plays an important role in helping our customers stay connected so we are constantly advancing our Internet product with new innovation," said Jason Gumbs, Comcast's Regional Senior Vice President. "Our state-of-the-art gateways with Wi-Fi 6 technology, wall-to-wall Wi-Fi coverage, personalized tools and controls and advanced cybersecurity, are all helping to make our customers' connectivity experience better than it has ever been."
Comcast is also one of the first U.S. Internet Service Providers to offer a Wi-Fi 6 Certified gateway with the latest version of its xFi Advanced Gateway, which is capable of delivering multi-Gigabit speeds via ethernet and laid the groundwork for Gigabit speeds over Wi-Fi. Customers on the new upgraded Xfinity Gigabit tier will require an xFi Advanced Gateway, or one of the Wi-Fi 6 capable devices approved to work with the Xfinity network to receive the faster speeds. Comcast will be reaching out to Gigabit Internet customers who need to upgrade their equipment for no additional cost if they don't have a capable device in their home. Xfinity Extreme and Extreme Pro will not require new equipment to take advantage of this speed increase.
According to The Xfinity Cyber Health Report, some users have dozens of devices in their home. Increased internet speeds support faster connections and more capacity to support the growing number of smart home devices that are being added to home Wi-Fi networks today and in the future.
Comcast's Xfinity Gigabit Internet service is delivered using Comcast's existing network architecture and the connections that are already in most customers' homes.
Since 2017 alone, Comcast has devoted more than $12 billion to strengthening and expanding its network - including building more than 33,000 new route miles of fiber. Every 2.5 years the company adds as much capacity to the network as it added in all the previous years combined.
Comcast's residential broadband service is powered by xFi - a simple, digital dashboard for Xfinity customers to control their home Wi-Fi network. In addition to parental control features like pausing Wi-Fi and screen time scheduling, xFi provides content filters that ensure younger children can only access age-appropriate content. xFi now also comes with xFi Advanced Security, that protects all the devices connected to a customers' home network from malware and other security threats. xFi can be accessed via the Xfinity mobile app (iOS and Android), or on the TV, on X1 and Flex, with the Xfinity Voice Remote. The feature is available at no extra cost to about 20 million Xfinity Internet customers who lease a compatible xFi gateway.