New Comcast Investments Coming to Connect Local Residents to the Internet in Thurston County

comcast IE 10 year anniversary
Photo courtesy: Comcast

Submitted by Comcast

On the 10th anniversary of its Internet Essentials program, Comcast today announced it has connected more than 10 million people over the past ten years. Of that number, more than 16,800 are in Thurston County. Olympia comprised the bulk of that number, with 8,400 people connected through Internet Essentials over the decade.  Internet Essentials offers broadband access for low-income families and individuals for $9.95 per month, along with digital literacy training programs and access to low-cost computers.

Comcast also announced today that 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 consist of investments in Washington state that include ongoing support for its Lift Zone initiative to establish WiFi-connected safe spaces in 80 community centers statewide for students and adults by the end of 2021; new laptop and computer donations; and more than $750,000 in funding for local nonprofit community organizations.

Of that funding, $125,000 will be contributed to nonprofits in Thurston County to create opportunities for low-income residents; and continued investment in the company’s Internet Essentials program. In addition to the total number of connections Internet Essentials has provided, other key metrics about the program, include having:

  • 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 six school districts in Thurston County to help connect hundreds of students to the Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Contributed more than $50,000 to Digital Equity programs in Thurston County in 2020, including support for the Thurston County Chamber Foundation’s Business Essentials Workshop Series.
  • Provided free access to the company’s 3,851 public Xfinity WiFi hotspots in Thurston 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.
  • Offered 60 days of free Internet service to any new Internet Essentials customers in Thurston County who needed to get online during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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