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The City Journals

Comcast makes a $1 billion commitment to digital equity

Oct 30, 2021 10:52AM ● By Bryan Scott

Comcast Corporation, the global media and technology company, connects people to moments that matter. In fact, over the last 10 years, Comcast has connected more than 160,000 people in Utah to low-cost, high-speed, in-home internet services.

Now, the company is doubling-down on its commitment to help low-income families in the state gain access to the internet. 

“Utah is one of the most collaborative states we work with across the country when it comes to helping its citizens gain digital equity,” said J.D. Keller, senior vice president, Comcast Mountain West Region. “Leaders from the state, county and city are working together as we open more free WiFi Lift Zones, connect more families to the Internet at home, and increase speeds for businesses and families across the state.”

Comcast has pledged $1 billion to establish WiFi-connected safe spaces, or Lift Zones, in 35 community centers in Utah, and more than 1,000 zones across the country. These centers help students participate in online learning and will connect more than 8 million low-income people to the internet. 

The COVID-19 crisis put low-income students at risk and Comcast’s Internet Essential Partnership Program is focused on creating digital equity, allowing students to continue their schooling, even when they can’t attend class. Just this year, Comcast estimates students across America will complete more than 25 million hours of remote learning lessons at the hundreds of Lift Zone locations that have already opened. 

“We are delighted to work with such outstanding corporate partners, such as Comcast, as we connect more Utahns to the Internet,” said Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox. “Utah is regularly lauded for its innovative vision in numerous categories, and increasing our digital access helps everyone, including families, students and businesses.” 

The Comcast investment includes laptop and computer donations, more than $100,000 in digital equity grants for local Utah nonprofit community organizations, and continued investment in the company’s landmark Internet Essentials program. 

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said Comcast is advancing the county’s effort in supporting economic prosperity throughout the Salt Lake Valley. The county is responsible for launching unique digital equity initiatives to connect its community.

“We have one of the most forward-thinking counties in the country and having such a robust partnership with leaders in government and community organizations means we can connect the pivot points quicker and more securely for all involved,” Wilson said. “We’re committed to digital equity. Our Salt Lake County libraries have more than 300 hotspots and 150 Chromebooks in circulation to assist residents with digital needs in their homes.”

As Salt Lake County collaborates with Comcast, the country’s largest internet provider, programs in the area will benefit from the partnership. 

Comcast recently gifted Neighborhood House with 300 computers and laptops to help clients in its programs, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake was awarded a financial grant to support its mission to empower youth and guide them toward success. 

“We are very grateful for this timely grant from Comcast,” said Amanda Ree Hughes, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake. “Comcast is a 360-partner because they give more than just dollars for computers and programs. Their employees bring skills, experience and knowledge to create a whole solution in providing access and technology to help our kids succeed.”

Keller commends Utah for its “can-do attitude” and the willingness of state and county leaders to create long-lasting collaborations that will benefit students and impact Utah’s prosperity. 

“Together, we have been able to connect tens of thousands of Utahns to the power of the internet at home and to the endless opportunity, education, growth, and discovery it provides,” Keller said. “Today, we are rededicating ourselves to this mission to ensure the next generation of students in Utah has the tools, resources, and abilities to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

“Whenever we can help our community neighbors connect to reliable, high-speed internet access, we work to do that. It helps keep us all moving forward one family, one organization, and one community at a time.”