We work to create connections. On any given day that can mean installing a powerful, secure internet experience into a home, business, or community space, answering a customer’s questions at an Xfinity Store, expanding our fiber-rich network or supporting an organization, family, or small business to help create digital and social equity. Throughout 2021 here in the Western New England, which includes Connecticut, Vermont, western Massachusetts and western New Hampshire, we have continued to focus on delivering the products and services our customers love while ensuring access for those who need it most.
Our network is the backbone of all that we offer, and we have continued to increase reliability and capacity and to innovate, not just to meet current needs, but to stay well ahead of future demand. For instance, to support the ever-increasing number of connected devices in our customers’ homes, this year we introduced advanced Wi-Fi technology capable of delivering the fastest speeds over Wi-Fi. We also invested in and expanded our network in Worthington, MA, as well as acquired Russell Cable in Russell, MA, to extend high-performance internet and other advanced offerings to residential and business customers at additional addresses.
These investments have allowed us to keep our customers entertained and connected at home, work and on the go. Throughout the year, we added value on our platforms with the launches of additional streaming services like Disney+ and ESPN+ on X1 and Flex. We enhanced our top-rated Xfinity Mobile service, providing even more options for customers to get a great wireless experience and still save. And, we extended that same great service to our small business customers with the new Comcast Business Mobile.
To provide a place where customers can interact with our products and services and get advice from one of our experts, we opened three new Xfinity Stores in West Lebanon, NH, Plainville, CT and Williston, VT. And we introduced a free rewards program, Xfinity Rewards, making special perks, discounts and experiences available to eligible Xfinity customers across the area.
While we focused on providing the best products, services and experience for our customers, we also continued to apply our resources to support our communities, working to create positive change and a more equitable society. We built upon our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion with initiatives like Comcast RISE, the multi-year, multi-faceted initiative that supports small businesses owned by people of color. In 2021, we announced 56 additional recipients across New England, like Michael Grant of Give Music Inc. in Springfield, MA, providing them with marketing or technology services.
This year was the 10th anniversary of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption effort for low-income households, which has connected a cumulative total of 667,600 individuals across Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont since 2011. We marked the milestone with a laptop donation and grant to the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford, CT’s New South End Club. We now deliver speeds up to 50 Mbps through Internet Essentials and have expanded the program eligibility to include all Federal Pell Grant recipients within our service area, enabling even more students to stay connected as they continue to pursue degrees at colleges, universities and technical schools.
As part of our ongoing commitment to help students and adults get online, participate in distance learning or remote work, do homework or look for and apply for jobs, we equipped 28 community spaces in Connecticut and 64 in western Massachusetts, including the YMCA of Greater Springfield, with WiFi-connected Lift Zones this year. Along with Comcast RISE, Internet Essentials and other initiatives, Lift Zones are part of Project UP, our comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of Unlimited Possibilities, backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach 50 million people.
And, to make it easier for families to get connected to the internet, Comcast is supporting the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). This temporary benefit program from the federal government, designed to help qualified low-income households with a credit of up to $50 per month toward their internet service until the program’s funding runs out, gives new and existing customers the opportunity to apply the credit to all tiers of Xfinity Internet service, including Internet Essentials.
None of our initiatives this year would have been possible without the talents and focus of our employees like Jordan, a Technician from Springfield, MA, and Amoy from our West Hartford, CT Xfinity Store. These team members, and so many more, have helped to bring our company’s offerings and values to life each and every day.
We’re grateful to be a part of the homes, businesses, and communities throughout the Western New England Region, and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationships in the year to come. For more of Comcast NBCUniversal’s 2021 news, visit corporate.comcast.com/press.