Note: The information below does not include COVID-related steps or special programs taken by companies to connect students and others (evolving information).
The cable industry is committed to closing the digital divide by promoting the benefits of broadband, encouraging families to connect, and by offering programs that help families overcome barriers they may face.
Cable is the nation’s leading broadband provider, with 76 million subscribers, nearly 70% of all high-speed internet subscribers. Cable providers connected more than 5 million U.S. families to the internet in 2020.
More than 90% of Texans have access to high-speed internet.
Connecting kids at school, or helping them connect at home, is critical not just for their education now, but to prepare them for an increasingly technical and competitive U.S. economy.
Cable operators have used billions of their private capital to build and continually upgrade broadband networks across the country. In 2019, cable providers invested $18 billion on infrastructure and networks, part of the $168 billion invested from 2010 to 2020.
In addition, cable companies make low-cost internet available to low-income families with children who qualify for the National School Lunch program. Through this initiative, cable companies provide discounted Internet services, hardware, digital literacy training, and technology centers across the country to increase accessibility and help close the digital divide.
The cable industry nationally has invested more than $650 million in digital literacy training and awareness since 2011.
More than 10 million consumers have been connected to the internet through low-cost broadband programs.
Among these programs:
Altice USA in September 2017 announced the expansion of its Economy Internet program to households that qualify for the National School Lunch Program and senior citizens who qualify for Supplemental Security Income in service areas covered by Suddenlink Communications. In addition, Altice USA works with hundreds of community centers and libraries to provide free broadband in computer labs and other public spaces, enabling residents with access to high-speed internet at no charge in their communities. (UPDATED)
Sparklight launched Chromebooks for Kids in 2014 with the goal to improve education through the use of technology. The program has since donated 1,500 Chromebooks (as of September 2020) to Title 1 elementary schools in the company’s service areas that may otherwise have not had access to this technology.
Charter Spectrum Internet Assist, launched in November 2016, targets families with students who participate in the National School Lunch Program and seniors aged 65 and older who receive Supplemental Security Income program benefits.
On Feb. 1, 2021, Charter launched a new multiyear, multibillion-dollar broundband buildout initiative to deliver gigabit high-speed broadband access to more than 1 million unserved customer locations, including some in Texas, as estimated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and awarded to Charter in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction. Charter expects to invest approximately $5 billion to support its buildout initiative – offset by $1.2 billion in support won from the RDOF auction – expanding Charter’s network to lower-density, mostly rural communities that do not have access to broadband service of at least 25/3 Mbps.
The new initiative is in addition to Charter’s existing network expansion plans, including numerous state broadband grant projects, as well as the company’s previously planned privately funded expansions. The network Charter will build in these rural areas will offer 1 Gbps high–speed broadband access to all newly served customer locations with starting speeds of 200 Mbps, enabling consumers to engage in remote learning, work, telemedicine and other applications that require high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity.
Since 2011, Comcast’s Internet Essentials nationally has connected more than 8 million low-income Americans to the internet, as well as provided more than $700 million of support for digital literacy training, benefiting over 8.5 million people. In addition, the company has sold more than 135,000 free or affordable subsidized computers.
In partnership with dozens of local nonprofit organizations, Comcast also conducts Digital Connectors, a year-long course that provides digital literacy training to students three times per week at a local school, community center or other facility.
Comcast on Feb. 2, 2021, 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.
- Accelerating Internet Essentials: Automatically 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.
- Launching 1,000 Lift Zones by December 2021 – a year ahead of its original plan.
- Targeting philanthropic investments to education and equity-focused organizations working to increase digital equity and contributing to the collective action needed to drive sustained change.
Learn more on the cable industry’s programs and successes in closing the digital divide.