The internet has become a vital part of keeping the Kitsap community connected and our daily livesmoving during the COVID pandemic. We use it to attend school, work from home and stay connected with loved ones.
When things came to a screeching halt with statewide stay-at-home orders in March, internet providers knew they were playing an important role in the process. The county’s largest provider, Comcast, went right to work, boosting its network to handle growing internet traffic, which increased 32% across the country.
Working early-on and often to keep everyone connected
Throughout March and April, Comcast also made additional network enhancements, tripling its activity nationwide when compared to this time period in 2019, adding 1,700 new 100-gigabit links to provide speedy, reliable internet to customers’ service.
Additionally, a team of about 25 engineers worked around the clock, seven days a week, to roll out new technology to boost the network’s overall capacity by 36% — an accomplishment that typically takes months but was completed in a matter of weeks. One piece of that new technology is called Octave, an artificial intelligence platform that detects when modems aren’t using all of their available bandwidth and automatically redirects extra bandwidth back into the network for more speed and greater capacity. This technology optimizes the performance of 50 million devices across the Comcast network every 20 minutes.
“Internet access has become so important in nearly every aspect of our lives. That is even more evident now as we see everyone participating in school and work from home activities due to COVID-19,” said Rodrigo Lopez, Regional Senior Vice President of Comcast Washington. “We understand that the work we are doing is so important and are here to help connect as many people as possible.”
To help make this work easier, Comcast also worked to future-proof its network years in advance by upgrading to fiber and developing new technologies that have helped sustain and improve its service nationwide and here locally.These investments include adding 33,000 miles of fiber-optic cable to its nation-wide network since 2017, at a cost of $12 billion.
And today the company’s teams of technicians, engineers, cybersecurity professionals and others are always working to ensure fast, reliable and secure internet service. These teams are in your neighborhood expanding access and improving connectivity, in operations centers performing health checks to pinpoint potential issues, and across the country monitoring for privacy and security attacks that could impact a home or business with Comcast internet services.
Getting internet to those who need it most
Along with finding new ways to improve its network, Comcast continues to find ways to provide affordable internet access for everyone in the community — including low-income families and underprivileged individuals who live in Kitsap county.
The Internet Essentials program, which offers reliable internet access for less than $10 per month for qualifying households, is the state of Washington’s longest standing, most comprehensive and successful initiative to connect low-income households to the internet.
More than 8 million Americans, including nearly 340,000 residents across the State of Washington, have already qualified for the program and now enjoy an internet connection from the comfort of their own homes — 90% of whom were not connected to the internet at home until they applied to the program. Any household that qualifies for a federal assistance program is eligible for the Internet Essentials program. The program also provides two free months of internet access to households that apply before the end of the year.
Bridging the internet access gap for students in Need
With many K-12 schools adapting to distance learning this school year, internet access is a necessity for families with children. To meet these needs Comcast created the Internet Essentials Partnership Program, which gives cities, school districts and community-based organizations the ability to connect students from low-income households to the internet. This program is available to districts and organizations in Kitsap county looking to assist students in connecting student households that need internet services.
To expand service to kids even further, Comcast also partnered with the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to help expand its K-12 Internet Access program. Through this private-public partnership, OSPI is able to provide free internet to kids in need for the remainder of the