Comcast pledges $1B over 10 years to close digital divide

Comcast is committing $1 billion to provide 50 million people with broadband over 10 years. (Comcast)

Comcast today said it would invest $1 billion over the next 10 years to help close the digital divide in the United States. Its commitment includes additional support for its ongoing Lift Zone initiative, which aims to establish Wi-Fi-connected spaces in 1,000+ community centers by the end of 2021.

The 10-year $1 billion investment will also include new laptop and computer donations and grants for nonprofit community organizations to help low-income Americans, particularly in media, arts, technology and entrepreneurship.

Comcast will also continue investing in its popular Internet Essentials program, which the company started in 2011. The 10-year-old Internet Essentials program offers deeply-discounted internet connectivity for low-income people. 

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Comcast has also published a 10-year progress report on Internet Essentials, saying the program has helped 10 million Americans connect to the internet over its lifespan.

Dave Watson, CEO of Comcast Cable, writes in the progress report, “Ten million people over 10 years is an exciting milestone, but it’s just the beginning of our next chapter. We are proud to share that over the next 10 years, Comcast is committing $1 billion to reach 50 million people from low-income families and provide them with the training, tools, and resources they need to succeed in a digital world.” 

Comcast’s broadband business

Comcast’s broadband business had a terrific year in 2020, driven in large part by the surge in demand for home broadband because of Covid-19.

But Wells Fargo recently put out a report saying, “Broadband is a great business, but there are some risks. In our view the biggest one is penetration, as we think 2020's strong broadband sub growth of 4.5% to about 106 million subscribers leaves limited penetration upside.”

RELATED: Broadband growth will slow after strong 2020: Wells Fargo

The Wells Fargo analysts said a key risk for the cable sector is deationary broadband pricing driven in part by competition from telco-provided broadband, including but not limited to 5G.