Latest industry news in Texas and around the country.
Another Texas school year is about to start, but this one will look a little different with COVID-19 concerns spurring many school districts to begin the year virtually before transitioning to in-person classes. 

Across the state, parents, teachers and schools are concerned with how to provide remote instruction to students who may not have internet access at home. The abrupt shift schools made to online instruction in March underscored the challenges of the digital divide. At that time, cable companies immediately enhanced their existing programs designed to connect low-income families.

Since then, cable providers serving Texas have continued to work with schools, education officials and others to increase internet access so all students have the opportunity to learn.
Starting in mid-March, the world experienced a sudden surge in internet usage driven by the widespread COVID-19 stay-at-home orders that caused many of us to switch to working and studying at home in a matter of days. Cable broadband networks not only withstood this sudden surge in internet usage; they excelled. For example, for the week of June 27–July 4, 99.9 percent of U.S. cable broadband users saw no material impact on customer experience. Looking to the future, cable networks are also well-positioned to remain ahead of sustained increases in consumer demand. Although internet usage appears to have plateaued recently, CableLabs and the broader cable industry continue to develop further network advancements to ensure that internet performance stays well ahead of even the most demanding home users’ needs for years to come.
Since the start of the pandemic, kids have spent more hours at home than they ever have before. And as schools struggle with the decision of whether or not to reopen this fall, it is very likely that many children will continue to distance learn and spend most of their days at home for the foreseeable future. In many ways, the internet has acted as a source of comfort for kids (and adults) during this time as they use it to not just complete schoolwork, but to also connect with teachers and peers on a personal level, stream entertaining shows, or play interactive games. But what are the caveats to this increase in online activity among kids, and what can parents do to ensure that their families stay safe online and maintain reasonable media usage limits?

In cities and towns across Texas, local cable operators and their employees make their communities a better place to live. Cable companies not only make financial and in-kind donations to numerous civic and charitable organizations, but employees volunteer thousands of hours of their time each year. Check out the latest cable industry community initiatives below.
New Spectrum stores now open in Round Rock, Plano and McAllen

Charter Communications, Inc. announced on July 31 the opening of new Spectrum Stores in Round Rock and Plano, and then announced a McAllen store on Aug. 10. The Spectrum stores gives consumers in Round Rock, Plano and McAllen a convenient option for adding or managing their Spectrum Internet®, TV, Mobile or Voice services.

Spectrum Networks launches news app to bring award-winning local news to all 28 million Spectrum residential customers at no additional charge

Spectrum Networks on July 3 announced the launch of the Spectrum News App, an innovative local news app that combines reporting from existing newsrooms and weather teams, original content produced by a growing team of dedicated digital journalists, and curated content from partner news organizations. The app also showcases the linear feeds of all Spectrum News networks, giving customers the ability to read, watch or listen anytime, anywhere, based on their geographic preferences. The Spectrum News App is free to anyone for the first 30 days, and after the trial period, will be available to all authenticated Spectrum residential video, internet and mobile customers at no additional charge. Learn more.

Charter to expand distribution of Black News Channel and offer network to video subscribers across all markets

Charter Communications, Inc. on July 16 announced it plans to significantly expand distribution of Black News Channel (BNC), the nation’s only 24/7 African American-focused news network, by making the channel available to Spectrum TV subscribers throughout the company’s 41-state footprint by early September.

Charter was one of the first pay TV providers to offer BNC in some of its biggest markets, including Dallas, upon the network’s launch in early 2020. Read more.

2020 Hispanic Hero honoree winners announced by Comcast Houston

Since 2016, Comcast has recognized community volunteers who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to improving the lives of people in underserved communities across the Houston area. This year’s Hispanic Hero Award recipients are no exception and have delivered numerous hours of service and talent to positively impact the local community. This year, due to safety concerns and circumstances presented by the recent coronavirus pandemic, the in-person event has been converted to a unique digital campaign. Read more.

Easterseals of Greater Houston to receive $40,000 from Comcast NBCUniversal Grant

Easterseals recently announced it has received a grant of $325,000 from Comcast NBCUniversal to provide assistive technology solutions addressing challenges faced by people with disabilities, veterans and seniors during and throughout the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will be distributed across Easterseals’ national network. Easterseals Greater Houston will receive $40,000 of the grant funding

“We have long championed inclusion for individuals of all abilities, and now more than ever, integrating technology in more ways can support needs for Easterseals at both the National and local Affiliate levels to be a resource for their clients to improve the way they experience the world,” said Juan Otero, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for Comcast Corporation and a member of the Easterseals National Board of Directors. Read more.
Sparklight to award $15,000 to non-profits impacted by COVID-19

Sparklight today announced it will award $15,000 to non-profit organizations in the communities it serves as part of the internet service provider’s “Up for Any Challenge” social media campaign.

Non-profit organizations in communities throughout the 21 states Sparklight serves can enter to win simply by sharing a photo and written entry outlining how their organization has been impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, how the winning funds will be used, and how funds will benefit the community. Three organizations will be selected to each receive a $5,000 donation. Entries are due Aug. 11 Learn more.

Sparklight Chromebook donation enables student access to technology during COVID-19

Students at Frontier Elementary in Angleton, Texas, and six other schools in Sparklight’s 21-state footprint will be equipped with new Chromebooks this school year as the result of a Sparklight initiative designed to improve student access to technology in Title I schools. Over the past seven years, Sparklight has donated more than 1,500 Chromebooks to Title 1 schools in the markets it serves.

Sparklight Senior Vice President of Technology Services Ken Johnson said that donating Chromebooks to Title 1 schools will help bridge the digital divide in schools that lack funding – especially for students lacking the technology needed to perform school from home activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
Texas Cable Association |