Charter is committed to delivering high-quality connectivity and increasing access for more people in more places and to supporting the communities we serve, especially in their times of need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Charter has helped to ease the strain on millions of Americans during a challenging time, including by connecting hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and their families to 100 Mbps or 200 Mbps broadband service for 60 days at no cost to them; suspending collections and not charging late fees or terminating service for residential or small business customers; opening Wi-Fi hotspots for public use; donating $12 million in airtime to run public service announcements; and opening Spectrum News websites to increase access to high-quality local news and information. We were honored to have recently had our company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic recognized by Forbes as one of the best in the nation.
As the school year ends and Americans begin to find a new normal, we will continue to assist those facing significant connectivity challenges:
- Repayment Assistance: As our remote education offer free period ends, our goal is to work with our customers to find a plan that matches their needs and budget, including for qualified households, our affordable low-income broadband service Spectrum Internet Assist. For our customers who requested suspension of collections activities due to COVID-related financial impacts, in conjunction with their June billing cycle we have brought them current, forgiving a portion of their delinquent outstanding balance.
- Special Program for Low Income Families and Seniors: We continue to offer high speed broadband to eligible households through our industry-leading, low-cost program, Spectrum Internet Assist.
- No Penalty for Disconnection: For those no longer needing at-home internet access, Spectrum has no annual contracts and customers may disconnect at the end of any month.
- Supporting Small Businesses: Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, creating two-thirds of net new jobs and accounting for 44% of our economic activity. To energize America’s small businesses as they begin reopening their doors and helping restart the economy, Charter has provided a month of free services to new business customers.
- Investing in Minority-Owned Small Businesses: Throughout our country’s history Black and minority-owned businesses have not received equal access to the critical financial resources needed to survive and grow. More recently, the disproportionate devastation experienced by these businesses has come into clearer focus through widespread civic unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic: 41% of African-American-owned and 32% of Latino-owned businesses disappeared between February and April of this year according to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research study. To support Black and other minority-owned small businesses in underserved communities, Charter is partnering with the National Urban League and National Action Network on a $10 million investment to increase access to much-needed low-interest capital and help build thriving communities across the country.
We are proud to have been able to offer extensive support to our customers when they needed it most while also delivering uninterrupted access during a record-breaking spike in demand. These efforts were made possible by significant investments in and expansions of our network infrastructure and technology, which totaled nearly $40 billion over the past five years.
The hard work and dedication of our 95,000 employees over the past few months has been remarkable. They monitored and maintained over 750,000 miles of physical network infrastructure across 41 states, completing more than 40,000 service calls and installations daily. They have risen to the challenge and continue to deliver great products and services for our customers with respect and compassion.
But we know we must do more. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates 21 million Americans remain shut out from access to high-speed internet and its life-changing benefits. Charter is committed to helping to close the digital divide by continuing to deliver high-quality products and services to more people in more places. In the coming years, we plan continued investment in our network and technology as we expand to lower-density rural communities and pursue our 10G plan, which will deliver low-latency, multi-gigabit speeds for our customers.