Insight Communications Co. has kicked off the initial phase of its first-ever corporate public-affairs program.
In Columbus, Ohio, the MSO launched its "Insight in the Know" campaign, designed to provide free cable-modem access to schools within its service areas.
The community-affairs program was created both to help bridge the so-called digital divide and to showcase the MSO's "unique broadband capabilities," according to the company.
Discovery Channel partnered with Insight in Columbus, where CEO Michael Willner met with local dignitaries to name the 10 local middle schools where the initiative will roll out.
In addition to offering cable-modem access, Insight plans to partner with a programmer in each of its markets to develop special broadband curriculum for local schools and to instruct teachers on how to best utilize high-speed Internet access in the classroom.
"What we heard from a lot of teachers and school systems is that teachers don't know how to use the technology," Insight vice president of corporate relations Colleen Quinn said. "We're bringing in volunteers to help teach the teachers."
Insight plans to install free cable modems in all accredited schools and libraries within its upgraded service areas.
Over 75 percent of Insight's Columbus system has been rebuilt, said Quinn, and that number should reach 90 percent by the end of this year.
The public-affairs program will be launched in Columbus schools this fall.
This December, Discovery is launching the
Inside the Space Station
series, and Insight asked the programmer to create broadband content for the classroom based on its television offering. The resulting program will launch in mid-November in Columbus middle schools.
Discovery and Insight will provide an online chat featuring space station personnel exclusively for students from the In the Know program, Quinn said.
To help promote the new initiative, Insight and Discovery will sponsor a contest that gives students a chance to win a trip to space camp.
Next spring, Insight plans to launch its In the Know program in Louisville, Kentucky, with Oxygen as its programming partner, Quinn said.
Like Discovery, Oxygen will help develop unique content to be used as a curriculum aid.
Insight is also in preliminary talks with Oxygen to create a technology club for young women in the Louisville area, Quinn said.
"In each of our systems, eventually we will have a partnership with a programmer," Quinn added. "We've already gotten calls from other programmers" who are looking to broaden their reach to the broadband platform.
Other MSOs have also incorporated free cable-modem access for schools into their public-affairs initiatives. For example, Comcast Cable Communications earlier this month met with local school officials in Crofton, Md., to debut the operator's Comcast@Home high-speed Internet service there, as well as its High-Speed Education Connection program.
Corporately, Comcast is revamping its award-winning Comcast Online Schoolyard Web site, with a relaunch slated for later this fall.