FCC Clears Comcast for Library Lift Zones

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The Federal Communications Commission has clarified that Comcast can continue its Lift Zone pilot project beyond the 2022 expiration of a waiver it obtained from an E-rate rule.

The FCC had allowed Comcast to test expanding its Lift Zone diverse broadband access program from community centers to libraries that receive E-rate funding. It did so by extending its pandemic-related waiver of the prohibition on gifts from providers to E-rate school and library recipients until June 30, 2022.

But Comcast asked the FCC to clarify that it could continue the library pilot program beyond that waiver cut-off date.

The FCC‘s Wireline Bureau has done just that. “We clarify that Comcast may provide broadband and other services to the seven library systems‘ Lift Zone locations for the three-year term Comcast requested in its petition,” the bureau said. “We find that a three-year waiver for the seven library systems selected for its Lift Zone library pilot, with the safeguards Comcast has agreed to implement, is in the public interest.“

Comcast‘s WiFi Lift Zones are part of the company‘s effort to provide broadband connections to low-income households. It currently has 15 locations in Baltimore. 13 in Washington and one in Virginia.

The “zones,” which are created in partnership with local nonprofits, provide free WiFi connections in partner community centers so kids who may not have WiFi connectivity at home.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.