FCC may extend Lifeline program to include broadband internet2016-03-09 02:50 by Daniela
Tags: FCC, Lifeline, broadband
The Federal Communications Commission has announced that it wants to expand its low-income subsidy program Lifeline to help poor families afford broadband internet. The program will subsidize those families with $9.25 per month. It is an effort to narrow a digital divide between the rich and poor.
Lifeline was created back in 1985 to subsidize the cost of land-based telephone services. In 2008, it was adjusted to cover cell phones. Over 12 million households participate in it today. Now those households may be given the option to choose between phone or Internet service (or a mix of both).
"The biggest reason [low-income] Americans don't sign up for broadband is cost," FCC chairman Wheeler wrote in a blog post. "Only half of the nation's households in the lowest income tier subscribe to broadband. And 43 percent [who don't get broadband at home] say that affordability is the reason.
"We must never lose sight of the fact that what we're really talking about is people – unemployed workers who miss out on jobs that are only listed online, students who go to fast-food restaurants to use the Wi-Fi hotspots to do homework, veterans who are unable to apply for their hard-earned benefits, seniors who can't look up health information when they get sick".
The agency is expected to vote on the program extension on March 31.
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