Philadelphia, December 10, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that he looks forward to signing legislation for the new 15-year Comcast cable television franchise agreement that was unanimously approved by City Council. The new agreement will enhance customer service standards for cable service, increase funding for public access channels, provide a 10-percent discount on cable service for low-income seniors and increase internet service for qualifying seniors and low-income Philadelphians.
“I want to thank City Council, Council President Clarke, Councilman Henon and members for the countless hours of effort they made by taking the proposed Comcast cable franchise agreement and structuring it into legislation benefitting all Philadelphians and city government. I look forward to signing this legislation when it reaches my desk,” said Mayor Nutter. “I also want to thank Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid and Administration staff who toiled diligently on this project for two years. Thanks to all their work, Philadelphians will benefit from enhanced customer service, new jobs in a virtual call center, and a high speed, reliable data network for city government, enabling the city to provide more online services in the near future. When all is said and done, Comcast, one of our city’s leading corporate citizens, is helping us close the digital divide by providing affordable internet service to vulnerable populations and it demonstrates why we are fortunate to have this homegrown company.”
The new franchise agreement provides:
- Close to a $400 million investment by Comcast over the next 15 years to enhance customer service standards, cable system remediation, franchise fee payments, commitment to public access programming and a multi-million dollar investment to bridge digital divide.
- A much needed high-speed data network connecting more than 225 municipal buildings and remote sites to enable government agencies to deliver faster, more reliable and convenient services to customers, residents and visitors. This is a critical anchor for government to modernize communications and service delivery across Philadelphia.
- Several programs to connect thousands of low-income households and low-income seniors to the Internet, through Comcast’s Internet Essentials. These investments also recognize that access to the Internet alone does not guarantee adoption. The programs include a comprehensive approach to digital literacy, access to low-cost equipment and seed funding for a digital literacy alliance to incentivize more stakeholders to address the digital divide issue impacting our city.
In addition to the cable television franchise renewal, Comcast will launch a virtual customer care agent program in Philadelphia that will result in the hiring of 150 to 200 city residents to work as customer care employees from their homes.
City Councilman Bobby Henon, sponsor of the bill, said, “We are very pleased that this franchise renewal ensures that Philadelphians receive a fair return for use of their rights-of-way and contains pledges to ensure that ‘Philly is First’ when Comcast, Philadelphia’s hometown cable provider, rolls out new Internet access programs and discounts across the nation. Philadelphia gave birth to the protection of individual’s rights and we hope with this franchise to start a new revolution in which affordable access to the Internet is added to the rights we enjoy as citizens.”
Speaking for Comcast Corp., David L. Cohen, Comcast’s senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer, said, “Philadelphia is our home – and we are delighted with the franchise agreement that has been unanimously approved by City Council, as well as our confirmation of an extraordinary set of voluntary commitments that Comcast has made that will benefit hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians today and for many years to come. This overall arrangement honors the legacy of civic responsibility and pride that Comcast has always brought to Philadelphia, and underscores our passion to help close the digital divide for Philadelphians through our nationally acclaimed Internet Essentials program. We are grateful for the partnership and support of Mayor Nutter and his administration, and of so many members of City Council, who have been instrumental in helping us reach this significant agreement for the people of Philadelphia.”
Adel Ebeid, Philadelphia’s Chief Innovation Officer who oversaw the Administration’s negotiations with Comcast, said, “I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead a great team of city professionals who worked day and night especially in the last six month to get the city a deal Philadelphians deserve. We could not have executed on our strategy if not for the support of Mayor Nutter, Councilman Henon and Council President Clarke. We certainly had a lot of speed bumps along the way but we got the job done because we were united on our purpose and mission that connectivity leads to opportunities. This best-in-the-nation franchise deal has something for everyone and I could not have asked for a better outcome.”