By Catherine Sbeglia
Comcast is investing US$4.2 million over the next two years to expand its Xfinity and business services to 815 homes in the city of Sumas, a rural community of Whatcom County in Washington state.
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene of Washington called the announcement “welcome news” for the community, adding that it comes at a critical time when we have all become “increasingly reliant on a broadband connection to work, learn and teach.”
“Washington has some of the world’s largest technology companies but too many residents still don’t have affordable and reliable internet access,” she continued. “Bold investments like these will help families during this difficult time and beyond.”
As the impacts of COVID-19 made themselves known around the world, one of the most talked about hurdles in the US has become the digital divide. When it comes to access to online educational tools, for instance, an April 2020 survey conducted by the US Census Bureau in partnership with five other statistical agencies revealed that in the US 4.4 million households with children don’t have consistent access to computers for online learning during the pandemic, with low-income families disproportionally affected.
More specifically, the survey found that while 14 per cent of all households with school-aged children don’t have internet at home, the per cent increases by four percentage points to 18 per cent for households in rural areas.
According to Comcast, Sumas residents will have access to the entire Xfinity product suite, including Xfinity Internet, Xfinity Mobile, Xfinity X1, Xfinity Home and Internet Essentials, while the Sumas businesses community will have access to the full suite of Comcast Business Internet, voice, and video services.
More broadly, Comcast serves more than 1.6 million residential and business customers throughout Washington, and has invested over US$990 million in capital expenditures in the state over the past three years. Since 2011, Comcast says it has connected 560,000 low-income individuals statewide to broadband internet over the last decade, including 15,200 residents in Whatcom County.