It’s still early days, but virtual reality is quickly gaining mainstream attention. Global search interest on Google grew by nearly 4X in the last year.1 What will a future with virtual reality mean for advertisers, creators, and storytellers? VR for everyone Virtual reality used to be the stuff of science fiction. Today, it’s become a true …View full post
The Federal Communications Commission is considering changes to Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to break cable companies’ hold on the set-top box market, following a joint counteroffer from cable providers and AT&T Inc., and a nod from their rival Google. “Chairman Wheeler has repeatedly said he is interested in a constructive dialogue,” Kim Hart, an FCC …View full post
Sandvine, a provider of broadband network solutions, just released its latest Global Internet Phenomena Report. Unsurprisingly, Internet usage and access is on the rise. Overall, streaming audio and video account for a whopping 71 percent of all downstream evening traffic in North America. Sandvine suggests this will reach 80 percent by 2020. What accounts for …View full post
Earlier this week, New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg joined the legions of media watchers who see the Trump phenomenon as a case study in content marketing, not just a political campaign. It’s an interesting way to evaluate a 24×7 reality show brought to you by the entertainment company Rutenberg calls “Trump Productions, Inc.” And the analysis comes at a …View full post
The world will gain about 1 billion new internet users and reach 4.1 billion in the next four years, according to Cisco’s VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast, 2015-2020, released earlier this week. This addition of new users will be accompanied by a significant growth in internet traffic by the year 2020, which shouldn’t be a …View full post
CTIA® released its annual survey results, which found Americans used 9.6 trillion megabytes (MB) of mobile data in 2015, three times the 3.2 trillion MB in 2013. This is the equivalent of consumers streaming 59,219 videos every minute or roughly 18 million MB: Smartphones are the number one wireless device in the U.S. and still growing There …View full post
It’s still early days, but virtual reality is quickly gaining mainstream attention. Global search interest on Google grew by nearly 4X in the last year.1 What will a future with virtual reality mean for advertisers, creators, and storytellers?
- VR for everyone
Virtual reality used to be the stuff of science fiction. Today, it’s become a true reality. Why now? For one, the ubiquity and quality of mobile devices. With a simple piece of cardboard, we can now turn our smartphones into virtual reality headsets. Google has shipped millions of Google Cardboard viewers to help bring the VR experience to everyone. And, viewer in hand, there’s no shortage of content to watch. Every single video on YouTube can be viewed in VR, making it the world’s largest library of VR content.
This is giving many people all over the world their first taste of VR, and mainstream interest is growing; global search interest for virtual reality on Google has grown by nearly 4X in the last year.1
The technology has the potential to change our daily lives—from how we communicate to how we spend our leisure time. It’s early days, but it’s already happening, and now is the time for brands and creators to understand what it all means.
The promise of VR
Film used to be the most immersive storytelling medium. But even with the best, highest-resolution TVs, you’re still just watching. You’re not there. The promise of VR is what the industry calls “presence”—the feeling that you’re really somewhere else. VR cameras like Jump can capture the entire experience of a place—every corner, every angle. In the not-so-distant future, cameras like these will be capturing experiences all over the world. What does this mean for audiences? How about access to the best seats in the house at any event—floor seats at the NBA playoffs, a box at La Scala, front row at the Beyoncé show? Or the chance to visit the most beautiful places on earth, from the comfort of home? It’s the closest thing we have to teleportation, enabling deeper engagement than has ever been possible.
VR can also create a time machine of sorts. If we start recording the most interesting things that happen this year, then 20 years from now, we’ll be able to go back and experience it like we were there. These could be major global events or personal moments—a birthday party, a wedding, a first day of school. We’ll collect these memories like we do photographs—able to relay or relive them in an intensely vivid way.
At Google, Cardboard was our first step toward this future. Soon, our VR platform Daydream will enable even more powerful, mobile, high-quality experiences with a headset that’s comfortable at an accessible price. We’re also building mobile apps for VR like Google Play, Maps, and YouTube. To get a better sense of what VR is exactly, YouTube is actually a good place to start.
360-degree video vs virtual reality
On YouTube, we made a big, early bet on 360-degree video. This means viewers can see the video from every angle just by swiping or moving the phone or tablet around—no headset required. Uploads of 360-degree videos continue to grow and have doubled over the past three months. Brands are forging the way, using 360-degree video to film big events or get creative with ads. BMW used this technology for an ad featuring a 360-degree car race. The “School of Rock” musical created a 360-degree music video. AT&T simulated a car crash to drive home its phone safety message.
Virtual reality takes the 360-degree video experience a step further by adding depth. When viewed with a VR headset—not far from those red View-Masters you might have used as a kid—images become three-dimensional, which adds to the feeling of immersiveness. On top of that, spatial audio lets people listen to audio from all directions, just as in the real world.
The story is everywhere
For content creators, the potential of 360-degree video and VR is immense, but it’ll require a shift in thinking. VR lets viewers be active participants; they can look wherever they want. As Google’s principal VR filmmaker Jessica Brillhartputs it, the story is everywhere. So, rather than telling a story frame by frame, filmmakers need to build entire worlds.
This makes VR and 360-degree video an incredibly powerful tool to create empathy. When a viewer feels like they are there, they have a greater sense of the situation. Messages become more impactful.
On YouTube, creators are using the medium to create truly transportive experiences across sports, news, education, and fashion. Viewers can feel that tickle in their stomach when sitting in the cockpit of a jet in an acrobatic air squadron. The New York Times puts viewers in the shoes of displaced childrenaround the world. Virtual field trips let teachers take students places a school bus can’t. Fashionistas can get a front row seat at the latest runway shows from Jason Wu, Hugo Boss, and Dior.
Four questions for brands interested in VR
Virtual reality is no longer a novelty. It has real applications for brands today. But is it worth pursuing?
Here are some questions brands should consider before investing in VR technology:
Will VR give viewers an experience that they otherwise couldn’t have? The subject matter should truly take advantage of the medium—transport people to a place, immerse them in a world, and compel them to explore.
Could you give shoppers a better feel for your product? According to a study from Ericsson ConsumerLab, shopping was the top reason worldwide smartphone users were interested in VR, with “seeing items in real size and form when shopping online” cited by 64% of respondents. This doesn’t just apply to retail brands. Cadillac is already using VR to create virtual dealerships.
Will your recording environment be rich with things to see? If you’re shooting in a simple white room with nothing on the walls, probably not. If you’re at a sports event or a music festival, there’s likely plenty to see.
Will viewers want to continue watching beyond the initial “That’s cool” moment? It can be a challenge to get viewers to stick around after a minute or so. Make sure you have a compelling hook that will keep them engaged.
The Federal Communications Commission is considering changes to Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to break cable companies’ hold on the set-top box market, following a joint counteroffer from cable providers and AT&T Inc., and a nod from their rival Google.
“Chairman Wheeler has repeatedly said he is interested in a constructive dialogue,” Kim Hart, an FCC spokeswoman, said in an e-mail Wednesday. “He welcomes the feedback to his proposal to give consumers new options for accessing the content they pay for, and he looks forward to engaging in continued conversations to inform the final rules.”
Alphabet Inc.’s Google, an early backer of Wheeler’s White House-backed proposal to give households alternatives to the cable box, in a statement Tuesday called the cable-AT&T proposal a “constructive effort.” The National Cable & Telecommunications Association trade group and DirecTV owner AT&T in meetings last week with FCC officials offered to let subscribers watch shows on third-party devices through internet apps that conform to an industrywide standard, according to filings.
$231 to Rent
The FCC proposal advanced on an initial vote in February, with Wheeler saying subscribers “essentially have no choices” but to pay $231 yearly to rent boxes from cable and satellite TV providers. The FCC said it wants to pave the way for new software and devices, and the White House called the proposal a step to save families money.
AT&T and cable providers led by Comcast Corp. decried what they called a technology mandate that would force them to give away valuable programming to Google and other competitors, who could strip shows out of program bundles and surround them with advertisements. Hollywood studios said the loss of control over shows would facilitate piracy.
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a member of the Democratic majority whose vote Wheeler likely needs to pass the measure, said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday that the “the original proposal has real flaws.”
“We need to find another way forward,” Rosenworcel said. “So I’m glad that efforts are underway to hash out alternatives to provide consumers with more choice and more competition at lower cost.”
Sandvine, a provider of broadband network solutions, just released its latest Global Internet Phenomena Report. Unsurprisingly, Internet usage and access is on the rise. Overall, streaming audio and video account for a whopping 71 percent of all downstream evening traffic in North America. Sandvine suggests this will reach 80 percent by 2020.
What accounts for most of that traffic? According to Sandvine, Netflix streaming accounts for 35.2 percent of all downstream traffic. The slight surprise is that this is a downward trend from six months ago when Netflix accounted for 37 percent. In all likelihood this decrease doesn’t indicate a shifting trend in streaming video, instead it’s because Netflix is improving its compression technology, making the process of streaming high-definition video less cumbersome.
David Caputo, CEO of Sandvine said, “Netflix’s optimizations mean they can deliver more hours of video using less bandwidth, which results in lower data consumption for subscribers, and decreased capacity-related costs for operators.” So good news for everyone.
Also noted in the report was Amazon Video’s leap to become the third ranked downstream application, up from eighth a year ago and accounting for 4.3 percent of fixed broadband traffic. You Tube still ranks as number two with 17 percent and newcomer Sling TV cracked the top 20, but still only accounts for 1 percent of traffic.
The report also shows that cloud storage has officially surpassed file-sharing as the largest source of upstream traffic during peak hours. Notably, BitTorrent traffic has dropped, now accounting for an overall 5 percent of upstream traffic. Though no formal connection is made, it’s likely the drop in BitTorrent is due at least in part to the explosion in availability and popularity of streaming services like Netflix.
See the full report for more details on the latest internet user trends.
Earlier this week, New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg joined the legions of media watchers who see the Trump phenomenon as a case study in content marketing, not just a political campaign. It’s an interesting way to evaluate a 24×7 reality show brought to you by the entertainment company Rutenberg calls “Trump Productions, Inc.” And the analysis comes at a time when the value of content itself is getting a fresh look.
If the last presidential election cycle was all about big data — with people like Nate Silver at the top of the pyramid — this may be the election cycle where big data is trumped by “big content,” which analyst firm Gartner recently defined as “content marketing with the power of big data to create precision targeting of rich content assets.”
The only question on my mind: who wins? Answer: we are just getting started, and it’s too early to call.
I recently spoke with someone who not only understands the value of big content, but who is actually on the opposing side of the anti-immigrant rhetoric. Actor, writer, and producer Rick Najera — whom I’ve written about several times before — has been producing content to change the Latino narrative in a variety of formats. And, if he gets his way, he will soon be distributing that content digitally to get the scale and precision that all smart content marketers want.
As a former theater and events producer, I’ve learned to appreciate the power of place for public conversations. Done well, it combines the intimacy of studio interviews (like NPR’s “Fresh Air” has helped to popularize) with the emotional range of stage performance. Rick’s own experience in live experience brings power and professionalism to LTM’s productions.
Second, Rick’s Hollywood experience brings polish to the video production of LTM. He was a writer for the popular TV show In Living Color, MADtv, and most recently for Hulu’s original Emmy nominated show, East Los High. The challenge with live experience — as I’ve learned over the years — is that you can only engage the people who bother to come see the show. The numbers are small, unless, of course, you can find a way to distribute the content outside the room, through video. But unless the content is compelling, it’s hard to compete these days.
The content does not need not be shocking, as we may be tempted to believe this election season. But it does need to be great. Because, if the content isgreat, it may find a larger audience in the digital world (scale, precision, network effects).
The world will gain about 1 billion new internet users and reach 4.1 billion in the next four years, according to Cisco’s VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast, 2015-2020, released earlier this week. This addition of new users will be accompanied by a significant growth in internet traffic by the year 2020, which shouldn’t be a surprise, given that we’ve experienced these types of patterns and increases in the U.S. alone over the past several years. The advances we have seen in technology and broadband speed have led to the rise of live video streaming and a digital-centric media landscape, one which will continue to expand as connectivity makes our lives more productive, convenient and entertaining and as consumers demand better and faster connections.
As a way to better visualize the complexity of an evolving internet, Cisco’s Visual Networking Index has designed an infographic slide show displaying worldwide comparisons about internet use, connections and online activities between 2015 and predicted milestones in 2020. The VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast looks at broadband connection speeds, the amount of networked devices and connections, the number of Internet users, Internet application usage, Internet-connected TVs, Wi-Fi usage, and many more internet-based usages that help paint a better picture of where the state of the internet will be in 2020. Here’s a glimpse of what’s in store for the North American region:
Average fixed broadband speeds
2015: 25.4 Mbps
2020: 51.4 Mbps
Number of internet connections and devices
2015: 2.6 billion
2020: 4.5 billion
Percentage of IP traffic coming from Wi-Fi connections
Percentage of IP traffic coming from wired connections
Traffic generated by average internet user per month
2015: 47.7 gigabytes
2020: 114.4 gigabytes
Traffic generated by average internet household per month
2015: 115.1 gigabytes
2020: 277.7 gigabytes
The predicted decrease in the use of wired connections makes sense given how mobile our society has become. More and more people watch TV on the go, within different areas of their homes as well as places outside their homes, making it possible for them to feel less constrained and tied down. Cisco also estimates that North America will see a huge spike in the amount of data transfer usage, as indicated above in the amount of gigabytes generated per user and household. Video will no doubt contribute to this hike, as will the increase in the accessibility of internet-based technologies and tools that can be taken on the go.
The entire VNI report can be found here. It’s exciting to think what the next four years might bring. The networks of today have already improved immensely over the last five years, and those of tomorrow will enable us to share and consume even more content and video over even faster connections, making our lives all the more connected and the possibilities endless.
CTIA® released its annual survey results, which found Americans used 9.6 trillion megabytes (MB) of mobile data in 2015, three times the 3.2 trillion MB in 2013. This is the equivalent of consumers streaming 59,219 videos every minute or roughly 18 million MB:
Smartphones are the number one wireless device in the U.S. and still growing
- There were more than 228 million smartphones, which was up almost 10 percent from 2014. 70 percent of the population now owns a smartphone.
- There were more than 41 million tablets on wireless networks, up 16 percent from 2014.
Smartphones are the number one wireless device in the U.S. and still growing
- Americans talked more than 2.8 trillion minutes on their mobile phones, up more than 17 percent from 2014.
- Americans exchanged more than 2.1 trillion texts, videos and photo messages, or more than four million every minute.
To handle the increase in devices and usage, America’s wireless carriers invested almost $32 billion in 2015, including adding almost 10,000 new cell sites. Since 2010, carriers have invested more than $177 billion to improve their coverage and capacity to better serve all Americans.
“Americans today have mobile-first lives. In 2014, we had a record amount of data on our 4G networks. Remarkably, the amount of traffic on mobile networks more than doubled last year and shows no signs of slowing down. I’m proud our industry invested more than $30 billion to keep up with our demand and support millions of jobs. Our record growth also highlights the continued need for a national focus on making more spectrum available to the mobile industry,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO, CTIA.
|Mobile Trends in the United States, 2014-2015|
|Subscribers||355.4 million||377.9 million||+6.3%|
|Smartphones||208.1 million||228.3 million||+9.7%|
|Data Traffic||4.1 trillion MB||9.6 trillion MB||+137.6%|
|Minutes of Use||2.5 trillion||2.8 trillion||+17.4%|
|SMS/MMS traffic||2.07 trillion||2.11 trillion||+1.7%|
|Incremental Capital investment||$32.0 billion||$31.9 billion||-0.3%|
|Cumulative Capex||$430.6 billion||$462.6 billion||N/A|
CTIA® (www.ctia.org) represents the U.S. wireless communications industry. With members from wireless carriers and their suppliers to providers and manufacturers of wireless data services and products, the association brings together a dynamic group of companies that enable consumers to lead a 21st century connected life. CTIA members benefit from its vigorous advocacy at all levels of government for policies that foster the continued innovation, investment and economic impact of America’s competitive and world-leading mobile ecosystem. The association also coordinates the industry’s voluntary best practices and initiatives and convenes the industry’s leading wireless tradeshow. CTIA was founded in 1984 and is based in Washington, D.C.
For many years, the Federal Trade Commission has protected Americans on the internet with clear standards and strong enforcement against any unfair or deceptive practices online. The FTC is the lead federal consumer protection agency and has been a strong cop on the beat for our privacy. But in a classic case of the “law of unintended consequences,” the FTC had the jurisdictional rug pulled from under its feet for a small portion of the internet — broadband providers — due to legal changes contained in the Open Internet rules passed last year.
As a result, the Federal Communications Commission — which regulates telecommunications — is now eager to put their footprint in this space by knitting a patchwork set of rules that would apply narrowly to broadband companies while exempting everyone else. In fact, the rules under consideration at the FCC would be a huge step backwards for consumers — confusing consumers and increasing the risk of abusive or discriminatory use of our data online.
And this is particularly dangerous for people of color who must be vigilant to ensure that the discrimination and redlining so common in the “brick and mortar” world does not infect the internet or deny our communities of equal opportunities online. Civil Rights leaders have warned for years of the risk that “Big Data” algorithms and online profiling could send communities of color to the back of the digital bus and lead to discrimination in health, education, employment or other vital aspects of our lives online.
Yet dangerously, the proposed FCC rules appear cavalierly unconcerned with these risks, and in fact would make them worse. The biggest problem is that, unlike the straightforward, understandable approach to online privacy that the FTC has used for years, the new FCC proposal would create an irrational patchwork with illogically heightened requirements for broadband providers.
It is simply not realistic to expect consumers to understand multiple different approaches to their privacy or to figure out how their data is being used when the rules change for different internet companies they deal with. The federal government is supposed to be making things comprehensible for consumers, not sending them through a gauntlet.
Mass consumer confusion created by government bureaucrats won’t protect privacy; it will make consumers simply give up — another damning case of the law of unintended consequences where rules intended to give more protection gum up the works so badly that they end up offering less. The sophistry from which all this confusion and frustration will flow is the false notion that broadband providers pose a special risk to privacy and need a different set of rules.
In fact, extensive research shows that broadband providers have no unique or heightened access to consumer data that would justify different rules. Instead the opposite seems true. Who has more sensitive information about you — the banking, health, and social media companies you have accounts with or the broadband company that simply moves data around the web? This is particularly true as data encryption becomes the norm. By the end of this year 70 percent of internet data will be encrypted and completely unreadable by broadband companies that carry it. Websites and applications like Facebook, Google, and Amazon on the other hand have free rein because they are “inside” the encryption wall and want to know what you are doing and saying to answer your searches or sell you the right products.
Broadband providers have less reach for other reasons. They offer only a narrow, geographically limited service, while the website, application, and social media companies are with us everywhere we go, including at work, home, or on our mobile phones, our broadband provider is stuck in just one place and only “touches” a small amount of our data.
Instead of an inconsistent patchwork based on false assumptions and a misreading of the privacy threat, the FCC can and should step back and put consumers ahead of this jurisdictional land grab and learn from the success of the FTC approach that puts consumers in the driver’s seat rather than in a maze. And that has the sensitivity and flexibility to identify and weed out more subtle forms of data-driven discrimination online that communities of color are in the best position to spot.
Protecting consumer privacy online is challenging under any circumstances — the FCC should stand down from this dangerous attempt to make it even more confusing and complex.
Amy Hinojosa is the President and CEO of MANA, A National Latina Organization, the oldest and largest Latina membership organization in the United States.
Level 3 Communications is adding a new wrinkle to security services, introducing a new cloud-based service developed on next-generation firewall technology that has been built into its global network to replace on-premises security infrastructure. The Enterprise Security Gateway service is delivered from 40 Level 3 points of presence globally, can protect data on any device and is available to subscribers of any carrier.
The new service moves the security perimeter from the enterprise itself to the Level 3 network: One of its key goals is to address the rising costs of security for enterprises, which currently spend up to 60% of their IT dollars on that one function, says Chris Richter, senior vice president of global security services for Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) It covers a range of security issues including anti-malware with sandboxing, data loss protection, application awareness and enforcement and next-generation firewall.
“This new service is very powerful in ability to stop, block and detect attacks,” he commented. “We have the horsepower, the network reach, the global reach, so we thought, ‘Why not roll out gateways and create a virtualized, powerful high-performance next-gen security capability?’ “
Instead of deploying on-premises security hardware and employing IT security specialists, enterprises are given a detailed portal through which they have complete visibility of what is happening in their network, and can receive reports and gateway performance data, including a view of traffic the gateway is blocking. Customers also have the ability to change their security settings on-demand and add new services as needed.
The ESG service is the latest in Level 3′s security services push, which has started with a major distributed denial of service mitigation service and has expanded from there. (See Bargain Botnets Fuel Level 3′s Expansion, Level 3 Offers Secure Cellular Internet Access, Level 3 Brings Volume to DDoS Mitigation and Level 3 Elevates Security With Black Lotus.)
According to Richter, ESG represents Level 3′s “biggest product investment this year.”
That investment put high-powered redundant next-gen firewall chassis in each of Level 3′s 40 points of presence globally, along with massive routing and switching capabilities, Richter says. It also funded creation of two sandboxing infrastructures, one in North America and one in Europe, into which go snapshots of very packet that comes through the network with executable files or PDFs or other possible documents. If there is an indication of malware in them, Level 3 writes a signature against that malware to update its gateways on a constant basis, and notifies the customer of the quarantined traffic.
From its five global security centers, Level 3 provides around-the-clock access to security experts to resolve any issues. The carrier also makes constant use of its threat access information to update the security offerings.
Customers that are using other broadband service providers can access the Level 3 ESG through secure IPSec or GRE tunnels and get the same protection, Richter says. “This is carrier agnostic — you don’t have to buy a network service from us to get the benefits of the security service,” he says. “We haven’t see anything like this at other carriers,” he adds.
$1.2 billion. According to a recently released study commissioned by NCTA, that’s how much cable’s video and Internet providers and programmers put toward corporate giving in 2014. The impact that kind of funding has on socially responsible programs is immeasurable, but what does that even look like? Our industry has long been a contributor to philanthropic efforts, but until now, there hasn’t been much information about what that impact translates to. Where is the money going? Who is it helping? And how is it making our lives and communities any better?
The report, Measuring the Philanthropy of the Cable Industry, helps to answer these questions by offering a glimpse of initiatives that are taking off, community partnerships we have forged, and the empowerment that has resulted among groups and organizations across the country. The report found that in-kind contributions, direct cash giving, employee volunteerism, and employee-matching gift donations comprised the bulk of cable’s giving, and that the program area with the most support was equality and diversity. Giving a voice to diverse audiences ranked as number one, followed by community and economic development, education, and disaster relief.
Let’s hone in a bit on equality and diversity to get a better picture of how programmers and operators are influencing the nation’s landscape. On this front, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom are among the companies that have led the charge towards building a more inclusive society through the following initiatives.
For its Leading Women Defined annual conference, BET encourages leadership among black female audiences through a focus on education, leadership, health and activism for women and girls. During this conference, the achievements of prominent African-American women in the business are highlighted and celebrated, but more importantly, leaders gather to engage in discussing solutions that will positively impact the African-American community on a national scale.
In support of LGBT rights, Viacom joins in GLAAD’s Spirit Day to speak out against the bullying and injustices that occur against LGBT youth and individuals. On Spirit Day, which generally occurs in October, participants wear purple and share messages and stories in schools, media outlets and on social media to spread awareness about the bullying, discrimination and challenges faced by the transgender community. MTV also launched the Look Different campaign, a combination of on-air, digital and social media content that examines the consequences of the hidden biases and discriminatory transgressions in our society today against LGBT and minority populations.
To combat child hunger, Scripps partners with Share Our Strength and its No Kid Hungry initiative. The Food network aired a documentary that informed audiences about the hunger crises, and in addition to that Scripps helped to build food gardens in partnership with community organizers and businesses, and to organize nutrition education for at-risk families.
On a different front, there are many cable operators connecting with local communities in an effort to assist veterans, schools, and homeless populations. Charter is one that has a large volunteer system that encourages employees to take social action in the communities in which they live through rebuilding homes for people in need, such as repairing a residence for people with developmental disabilities and making it into a healthier and safer environment. Midco is another whose foundation has awarded over $100,000 in grants to various nonprofits, schools and government organizations in rural areas in which it serves, with the donations going towards things like hygiene supplies for a hospital, a dash cam system for a police department, and educational activities for a youth center. And Comcast, in celebrating the company’s year-long commitment to service, holds Comcast Cares Day each year, the nation’s largest single-day corporate volunteer event. Last year, 100,000 volunteers participated in improvement projects in over 900 parks, schools, beaches, senior centers and various community sites.
Operators are also focused on providing digital literacy training and bringing connectivity to those that don’t have the luxury of high-speed broadband at their fingertips through partnerships with organizations like TechLatino: Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association. Comcast’s Internet Essentials is a program that has helped over 2.4 million low-income Americans connect to the Internet from inside their homes and has provided more than $280 million of support for digital literacy training. Cox’s Connect2Compete program is another initiative that helps families with school children receiving federal assistance obtain discounted Internet services, giving kids the connectivity they need to complete their homework and to continue their learning outside of the classroom.
This is just a fraction of the work that is being done. There are numerous companies promoting activism for health and social service issues, those working to preserve culture and the arts, and others with a focus on civic and public affairs. There are few industries that connect so many people in the wide range of economic, age, and gender demographics than Internet service providers and cable programmers do, and even fewer that can have such a wide impact on their perceptions, education, health, civic and personal lives. These are also the same people who, as consumers, have helped the new media economy grow and whose diverse perspectives continue to fuel the ever-evolving digital and television worlds. It only makes sense then for cable operators and networks to come together and use that influence to give back to the communities and people that helped them grow.
$1.2 billion is definitely a noteworthy feat, but the work is never done. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and we will continue to serve as catalysts for change by leveraging the resources and sharing the inspiring stories found throughout our diverse companies.