By: Joshua Gras, Writer / Follow South Jersey News Reporting Intern
BRIDGETON, N.J. — Comcast has announced its plans to launch seven WiFi-connected “lift zones” in various locations throughout Cumberland County. These lift zones will provide WiFi coverage to help low-income students and residents gain access to the internet.
Many families in New Jersey have struggled to keep up with the changing world since the COVID-19 pandemic first started last year. The need to work and be educated from home confronted residents with unexpected challenges, but there were plenty of people in the community who were hit even harder since they had no way to connect to the internet. Comcast aims to change all of that with its new “lift zones,” which will be located at the following locations:
- Everett Marino Hall, Bridgeton
- Family Success Center, Bridgeton
- Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA, Vineland
- Vineland Police Athletic League, Vineland
- Carl Arthur Rec Center, Vineland
- Youth for Change Center, Vineland
- Monarch Family Success Center, Vineland
These zones cover areas in which people who can not afford internet service at their homes can come and connect to Wi-Fi for schoolwork and other needs. They have launched in part thanks to help from nonprofit groups like the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland County as well as the Gateway Community Action Partnership. The program has already launched 100 lift zones throughout Philadelphia and New Jersey and aims to reach more than 1,000 zones by the end of 2021.
“These Comcast Lift Zones are critical infrastructure for our students and their families within the City of Bridgeton, many of whom struggle daily with the bare necessities of life – like food on the table and paying their rent or utilities,” Bridgeton Mayor Albert B. Kelly, who also serves as president of the Gateway Community Action Partnership, said in a statement. “Internet connectivity has become even more vital in the age of COVID-19. Now, Bridgeton-area students are able to get online, participate in distance learning, and do their homework. Their success is all of our success. Comcast is helping our city’s youth from being left on the wrong side of the digital divide.”
In addition to the seven new lift zones in Cumberland County, Comcast has dedicated $1 billion to improving community members’ access to the internet over the next ten years.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.