Dozens of Digital Inclusion Groups Urge FCC to Support Internet ‘Lifeline’ for Low-Income Families

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Nearly 40 civil rights, social justice, labor and digital inclusion groups sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to reverse its decision that undermined the Lifeline Program.

Under previous FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the agency expanded and modernized Lifeline to help make high-speed internet access more affordable to people in low-income communities around the country. New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stymied program implementation in one of a number of decisions his FCC bureaus released on Feb. 3. Under Chairman Pai, the FCC revoked Lifeline broadband-provider status previously granted to nine internet service providers. The decision made it more difficult — if not impossible — for tens of thousands of low-income families and students to get online. He took away the connections of 17,500 customers that one of these providers was already serving, and stalled imminent service from other eight.

“Lifeline … is the only federal program poised to bring broadband to poor families across the U.S. so that they can connect to jobs, complete their homework, and communicate with healthcare providers and emergency services,” reads the groups’ letter to the FCC. “[W]e respectfully request that the Commission reject any further efforts to undermine Lifeline, swiftly implement the March 2016 Lifeline modernization order, and overturn the Wireline Competition Bureau’s Order on Reconsideration that rescinded Lifeline Broadband Provider designations for nine carriers prepared to offer Lifeline broadband services.”

Groups signing the letter include the AFL-CIO, the American Library Association, the Benton Foundation, the Center for Media Justice, the Center for Rural Strategies, Color Of Change, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Free Press, Generation Justice, Media Mobilizing Project, the NAACP, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Native Public Media, New America's Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication Inc., among others.

Dozens of Digital Inclusion Groups Urge FCC to Support Internet ‘Lifeline’ for Low-Income Families