The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took an important step (in a 3-2 vote) to approve Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to modernize the Lifeline program to include broadband.
The Lifeline program was established in the 1980s and designed to help low income consumers access voice telephone service.For decades, the Federal Government has helped millions of low income people afford access to basic communication by providing phone subsidies to low income households.
But as discussed on Thursday’s open meeting, the time is now to “adopt a 21st century model” and update the program to include modern communication needs: broadband access.
As Commissioner Mignon Clyburn noted, “broadband is the greatest technology equalizer of our time.” Indeed, broadband has the power to transform lives in ways unimaginable. As such, we must ensure equitable access to broadband technology across the board and eliminate the plethora of barriers that continue to plague our nation.
We commend Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for shining the light at the “homework gap” and pointing out how the “homework gap is the cruelest part of the new digital divide.”
In a world dominated by science and technology, it is critical for students to have access to learning opportunities after the school bell rings. Today, 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires Internet access. Yet, one in three households do not subscribe to broadband services of any speed.
“School-aged kids without broadband access at home are not only unable to complete their homework,” Rosenworcel pointed out, “but they enter the job market with a serious handicap.”
We thank Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, and Chairman Tom Wheeler for their unwavering commitment to closing this new digital divide.