Charter will participate in the $3.2 billion federal Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to help connect eligible households with high-speed internet during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Broadband internet access is more important than ever and the EBB program offers a tremendous opportunity to help low-income families stay connected, providing eligible households a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Additional information is available at www.FCC.gov/BroadbandBenefit.
“Charter has long been committed to increasing connectivity by addressing broadband access, adoption and affordability, including through the ongoing extension of our broadband network into unserved and rural areas, our Spectrum Internet Assist low-cost broadband offering for eligible families and seniors, and our Stay Connected offer for K-12 schools,” said Catherine Bohigian, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, Charter Communications. “Today we build on that commitment by announcing our participation in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and we will continue our efforts to comprehensively address barriers to connectivity, investing in long-term solutions to advance access, improving adoption, and protecting Americans’ privacy and security online.”
Building on years of investment to extend its network, Charter recently announced a multiyear, multibillion-dollar broadband buildout initiative to deliver gigabit high-speed broadband access to more than 1 million unserved customer locations, 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 currently have access to high-speed broadband service.
These newly served customer locations will have access to 1 Gbps high-speed broadband and Charter's high-value Spectrum pricing and packaging structure, including its Spectrum Mobile™, Spectrum TV and Spectrum Voice offerings. The Company will continue to apply its customer-friendly policies in newly served regions, including no data caps, modem fees or annual contracts, combined with high-quality service provided by U.S.-based, insourced employees.
As the country battled COVID-19 in 2020, Charter connected more than 450,000 students and teachers to reliable, high-speed broadband service for free for two months, opened Spectrum Internet Wi-Fi hotspots across its footprint for nearly four months, kept nearly 700,000 customers connected when they faced economic hardship, gave small businesses a month of free service, and forgave more than $100 million in past due balances to assist COVID-19 impacted customers. To help more people get connected while practicing social distancing, we invested significantly in our self-service infrastructure, with nearly 80% of installations using the program.
To increase adoption and access to technology, Charter offers philanthropic support to community organizations and in 2020 doubled its yearly commitment to the Spectrum Digital Education Grant program, which provides computers, digital education classes and technology labs and has benefited more than 56,000 people across 17 states and Washington, D.C., since 2017.
Protecting Americans’ Privacy and Security Online
As Americans increasingly rely on the internet for healthcare, remote work and distance learning, they worry about their privacy and digital security. Charter has long supported bipartisan reform that would establish a comprehensive, uniform, national framework that would protect consumers no matter where they go across the entire internet ecosystem, offering certainty now and for years to come. We continue to believe that a comprehensive opt-in approach to the use of consumer data — in which all companies doing business online would have to obtain consumers’ affirmative consent before using or sharing data, with limited exceptions — would best empower consumers to control how and when their personal data is used.
Charter recognizes the importance of the products and services we provide to millions of Americans from coast to coast and looks forward to extending connectivity to more Americans through participation in the EBB Program. By bringing high-speed broadband to more people, Charter is connecting millions to the opportunities they need to thrive in the 21st century.