Comcast representatives Mike Galla, Jonathan DuBois, Michael Belcher, and Brian Jenson attended the Infrastructure Committee’s June meeting. They were invited as part of the Committee’s efforts to improve internet connectivity during this time of increased use.
According to the representatives, Comcast is ensuring 24/7 network health, offering Internet Essentials, free Xfinity Wifi in public locations for everyone, and no disconnects for non-payment. For news and education Comcast is offering free access to MSNBC and CNBC regardless of subscriptions, and created a series of videos in English and Spanish about how they can reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19. A coronavirus information destination gives the latest news and information from the CDC and other sources.
In terms of entertainment, they’ve made On Demand available to families and children as well as adding the on-demand catalog from premium networks. Peacock, an ad-supported streaming channel, was launched in April and is included at no cost to current customers.
In the community, Xfinity is raising COVID-19 relief funds, to which several people in senior leadership are donating their salaries, according to the representatives. Comcast is providing frontline supplies and is supporting Cape Cod Health Care’s response with drive-thru test sites at Cape Cod Community College.
A committee member asked what Comcast was doing about the amount of bandwidth available for people now working from home. They responded that Comcast has capacity available for people working from home, as well as for online learning, and has come out with a specific work from home package which includes a dedicated voice line along with the internet and the option of adding a static IP. All business-grade services are available for home offices. Prices of discounted deals are good through the life of the contract.
The representatives said Comcast is aware of the seasonal bump in traffic and is prepared for the increase over the summer months, proactively adding node splits and preparing for capacity 12 to 18 months out. As companies decide to keep people working from home and schools adopt a hybrid approach or e-learning, the Comcast representatives said the company will have new products and services to support capacity. They did not say how many customers are served per node
For those whose businesses rely on symmetrical bandwidth, they suggested looking at dedicated fiber service. They said they are deploying more fiber and are getting fiber close to the curb.
In response to a question about small businesses who don’t qualify for support, they said Internet Essentials has broadened through the years. There’s also a prepaid product that allows customers to get in at a lower price point, as well as entry-level speed tiers.
“We’ve tried really hard in this COVID-19 response helping people re-enter the workplace,” they said. “Opening up the public hotspot has given people access if they don’t have a connection at home. Hearing that more bandwidth is something folks are looking for is something we will take back.”
Cape Cod is 99% served by Comcast.
Members stated that appreciate Comcast’s efforts but urged the Comcast representatives to focus additional efforts on small businesses that will be reopening and on families that do not qualify for Internet Essentials.