In the Arena with Amy Lynch
Amy Lynch is the Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Mountain West region, which serves more than 2.4 million residential customers and 160,000 business customers. In addition to overseeing more than 3,200 employees, Lynch is responsible for technical operations, engineering, business operations, marketing, external affairs, human resources, sales and the overall financial health of the Mountain West region serving the states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. Amy has more than 25 years of experience in the telecommunications, media and technology industry and has been with Comcast for 17 years.
The pandemic has certainly highlighted the necessity of the telecommunications industry. Has the growth in remote work and remote schooling changed priorities at Comcast?
At Comcast, we’ve built a powerful network with a simple purpose: keeping customers connected —always.
Throughout 2020, Comcast continued to deliver above-advertised speeds to customers across the country, including in areas most affected by COVID-19. The remarkable performance of the network during this time can be attributed to outstanding work by engineering and care teams, key technology innovations, and billions of dollars in strategic investment for many years before the pandemic began.
Since 2017, we invested $15 billion nationwide to expand, strengthen and evolve our network which ensured we can manage historic highs in demand.
In those first 4 months of working and learning from home, Comcast’s network experienced almost 2 years’ worth of traffic growth – but we were equipped to handle this kind of shift in usage. Between 2017-2020, we added 39,153 route miles of fiber to the network, and we’ve continued to make thousands of capacity augments from the core of our network all the way down to individual neighborhoods.
What do you wish your fellow business leaders understood about the recent state and federal push to support broadband development?
This is an incredible moment in time right now as the country moves out of the COVID crisis and the Federal government commits billions of dollars in infrastructure investments to assist with the recovery.
We commend Congress for providing a targeted broadband benefit and the FCC for adopting rules to implement the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). This is a step towards getting assistance directly to those in need during this pandemic, and we plan to participate in the effort. For a decade, our Internet Essentials program has connected low-income Americans to the Internet, and this new federal program will further assist us in our efforts to close the digital divide.
We will also work closely with our state and local governments to use this benefit to focus on serving communities most in need.
There are also broader opportunities for the state in the federal stimulus. The federal infrastructure investments have a chance to improve the other kinds of infrastructure that can quietly cost businesses and Colorado residents time and money. For instance, improving roads and bridges decreases time spent traveling, the wear and tear on vehicles and improves day-to-day life of many.
How should the private sector and government work together to solve the technology gap? Are there certain parts of the problem that should be primarily addressed by business or vice versa?
Digital equity is critical. A Pew Research study reports more than half of Americans find the Internet to be essential during the COVID-19 period. Yet many people still don’t have a home Internet connection for a variety of reasons.
Some people lack the digital literacy to understand the benefits a home Internet connection can provide. Others may only have a smart phone or tablet at home and lack affordable hardware like a laptop or desktop computer. Many people may be worried about their personal data privacy and security. And for others, the price of Internet service may be the determining factor as they balance their bills and remain unaware of more affordable home Internet options.
This is not something new. During the last decade, Comcast has been a leader in working with our communities to bridge the digital divide. Since 2011, Comcast has offered its Internet Essentials program. The program is designed to be a solution to directly confront every barrier to digital adoption by offering affordable Internet at $9.95 per month, subsidized computers, and free digital literacy training to eligible low-income families.
During that decade, our Internet Essentials program has connected 10 million people nationwide. Over the next decade, we will invest $1 billion to reach 50 million low-income Americans with tools and resources to succeed in a digital world.
Janeaya Ramos, a 17-year-old Denver resident and one of our current Internet Essentials participants told us, “The Internet Essentials program has made school very easy. I don’t have to stress. Now that we have internet at home, we don’t have to worry about finding a ride somewhere and we don’t have to worry about being able to do our schoolwork.” Janeaya and her sisters used to go to a restaurant parking lot to try to connect to a public wifi network to do their homework.
We’ve had great partnerships within government and our non-profit sector to help us address these digital equity issues – and we have so much more we can do together.
We’d love the continued help of the business, government and non-profit community to advance our Lift Zone initiative. As part of our ongoing commitment to help connect low-income families to the Internet, Comcast is launching more than 1,000 WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” in community centers nationwide. More than 20 have been installed throughout Colorado since December 2020.
Working with our nonprofit partners and city leaders, Comcast is providing WiFi in some of these central community locations to help students get online, participate in distance learning, and do their schoolwork.
The initiative provides free Internet connectivity, access to hundreds of hours of educational and digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning.
We’d love to connect more of this business community with opportunities to partner in this program.
You oversee over 3,000 employees and are known for being a leader who develops the capacity of other leaders. Are there any lessons regarding staff development that you have learned in the past year?
Our people, our teams and our culture at Comcast set us apart from others. We know creating a great customer experience begins with creating a great employee experience. This last year taught us we can still create a great culture, hire, train, develop and empower our teams in a virtual environment.
From a business process standpoint, we’ve made several changes and investments to simplify and provide self-help through digital tools for both employees and customers.
During these challenging times, our purpose of connecting people to more of what they love, whether that is work, school, families, or entertainment, is still at the soul of everything we do.
From your unique vantage point, what are the biggest opportunities you see for the state?
Colorado is a solution-oriented state. The public and private sector work closely to find ways for businesses to successfully and sustainably meet the needs for Colorado’s economy.
At the start of the pandemic the business community really rallied together with state and local leaders to collaborate on what we need to do and how we do it quickly.
We know a lot of our small businesses are still hurting – particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-owned, small businesses. The Governor and his administration are doing a nice job helping us navigate through this, and at Comcast we are further committing to our core values of integrity, respect, and improving the communities where our employees and customers live. This has been part of our DNA since our founding nearly 60 years ago and they continue to guide us as we seek new ways to uphold them.
In June 2020, Comcast NBCUniversal announced the development of a comprehensive, multi-year plan to allocate $100 million in cash and in-kind media over the next three years to fight injustice and inequality.
As part of this commitment, we launched Comcast RISE – an initiative helping local BIPOC-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs gain access to valuable resources like media and marketing creative and consulting, as well as equipping them with essential business class services to help power their businesses. Through the program, they now have a stronger foothold to keep their businesses growing, even in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
To date, we’ve awarded more than 74 BIPOC-owned small businesses in Colorado with marketing and technology resources and makeovers.
Additionally, internally, we’re focusing on workforce diversity and bolstering support of long-standing DE&I initiatives like talent pipelines, Employee Resource Groups, and employee volunteerism. We’ve launched several new efforts, from our enterprise-wide DE&I Day about implicit bias to our DE&I speaker series featuring renowned subject matter experts and authors including Isabel Wilkerson.
This is a journey for all of us, and we have a responsibility to engage together to lift all of our businesses up.
Rapid Fire Round:
Who inspires you? My team, the many people who are helping to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace and in the communities in which we live
What is your favorite place in Colorado? On any of the biking trails in Colorado with my husband
What are you reading? Think Again by Adam Grant and Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
What’s your favorite restaurant? An old staple…Cherry Creek Grill