Comcast’s Pandemic Response Wins SXSW’s People's Choice Award
Comcast’s Lift Zones initiative, which provides WiFi-enabled distance learning spaces at over 1,000 community centers nationwide, was among more than 60 SXSW Innovation Award finalists spanning 13 categories including “Innovation in Connecting People.”
As the largest Internet service provider in the U.S., Comcast was built on a foundation of supporting the communities in which we live, work, and serve. The company’s Lift Zones effort is a natural extension of those relationships. In 2020, as COVID-19 measures forced students into distance learning, we launched Lift Zones to provide free, robust WiFi access inside community centers across the country. As a result, tens of thousands of students who needed an Internet connection had a place to go to get online. Working with non-profit partners and city leaders, who kept select community centers open as essential services during the pandemic, we rapidly installed more than 1,000 Lift Zones before the end of 2021. There are plans to install 250 more Lift Zones this year.
The Lift Zones program not only helped illustrate Comcast’s network resiliency and front-line response to keep Americans connected through the crisis—the company saw a 40% surge in network traffic over the last two years—but also showcased our ability to act swiftly with our community partners to introduce a new connectivity solution for vulnerable communities.
As a company and a society, it is imperative that we work together with community leaders to help people connect to the transformative power of the Internet both at home and on the go.
Lift Zones are an out-of-home complement to Internet Essentials, which is the nation’s largest and most successful private-sector low-income broadband adoption program. Since launching in 2011, Internet Essentials has connected a cumulative total of more than 10 million people to the Internet at home, most for the very first time.
Recently, Comcast announced its participation in the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The ACP provides eligible low-income households a credit up to $30 a month toward the cost of Internet service ($75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands). Customers who qualify can apply ACP credits to any tier of Xfinity Internet as well as Internet Essentials.
Lift Zones are also part of Comcast’s ten-year, $1 billion commitment to advance digital equity through Project UP, a comprehensive initiative that encompasses the programs and community partnerships designed to connect people to the Internet and advance economic mobility.
We are immensely proud of the Lift Zones initiative, and the work so many of our employees have done to support community-based organizations through the last two, very difficult years. We’re beyond grateful to all of our community partners who’ve joined us on this journey and we want to share this honor with each of them as well. We also want to thank SXSW and all the attendees who voted for Lift Zones from Comcast as the People’s Choice winner in the 2022 SXSW Innovation Awards.