From the desk of Lance Haver, Director of Civic Engagement for Philadelphia City Council:
With your help, Comcast has agreed to a franchise agreement with the City that offers greater benefits for Philadelphians than anywhere else. Recognizing that Comcast’s growth was aided by the tax abatements the City and State granted, it has created programs that don’t exist elsewhere. Here is a list of highlights of what Comcast agreed to provide, after so many of you came to hearings, spoke with your Council members and asked for Comcast to offer Philadelphians the best franchise agreement in the Country.
An expansion of the internet essential program that offers low cost internet, a low cost, fully loaded computer and a wi-fi router.
- The program will be offered to every low income family with school age children.
- All low income seniors will be able to qualify for the same program.
- In the first year up to 1200 low income citizens in neither of those categories will also be able to qualify.
- Comcast has also agreed, with certain conditions to end the 90 day freeze out, so that people paying the higher prices now will be able to qualify for the lower cost programs without having to shut off their service for 90 days.
A 10% discount on limited basic and digital starter cable TV services for low income seniors.
Increased its funding for Public Educational and Government channels from 8 million to 21.3 million. While PhillyCAM did not get what it wanted, there is hope that when the Verizon franchise is renewed, PhillyCAM can get additional funding to make up the difference.
Comcast will provide, at no cost to the City, free internet and video services to over 200 public institutions allowing the City to create “wi fi” spots at health and rec centers and other locations.
Comcast will pay prevailing and living wages for all its employees and sub contractors.
Comcast will upgrade the City’s network allowing the City to lower its operating costs.
Comcast will hire 150 to 200 new customer service workers in Philadelphia.
Comcast agreed to new customer-service standards, and additional funding will make it possible for the City to help resolved consumer complaints.
Comcast will work with the School District of Philadelphia to establish a Career & Technical Education Program and hire 50 to 100 trained workers from the Philadelphia School District program.
Comcast will donate $500,000 dollars as seed money for a digital literacy fund that will allow the City to raise other funds in its attempt to allow everyone to have access to the internet.
Comcast will continue to collect and turn over to the City the 5% percent franchise fee that allows the City to fund basic services.
Comcast has agreed to pilot any new programs in Philadelphia first, ensuring Philadelphians have access to the newest programs.
There should be little doubt that many of these agreements were made because citizens and activists, like the Media Mobilizing Project, made their voices heard. I thank all of you for making the franchise agreement better than it would have been. To see just how good it is, read this article from Philadelphia Magazine and this from a Seattle, Washington newspaper where its Mayor and Council are saying they want an agreement as good as ours!
We will let you know when people can sign up for the new programs.