Universal service is the principle that all Americans should have access to essential communications services, like phones and broadband. You may not have heard much about it, but a universal service crisis is right around the corner. Due to Federal Communications Commission inaction, nearly 800,000 people could lose phone service on December 1. On that day, changes in the FCC’s Lifeline program, which provides a modest monthly discount for communications services, mean that voice-only services like a home landline telephone and/or a cellphone will no longer be eligible for the discount.
The Federal Communications Commission is committing $1,203,107,496.88 for 3,040 schools, 260 libraries, and 24 consortia that applied for support from the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This first wave of funding commitments will provide students, school staff and library patrons in all 50 states and Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia access to the devices and broadband connectivity they need to support their off-campus education needs.
In less than three months, nearly 800,000 low-income people who receive telephone subsidies through the Universal Service Fund's Lifeline program will be negatively impacted by changes scheduled to go into effect at the Federal Communications Commission on December 1, 2021. The FCC needs to change course and help more Americans keep connected to communications services that are essential to navigate the ongoing public health and economic crisis. Most importantly, the FCC should act swiftly and hit the pause button on the 2016 plan to zero-out support for voice-only services.
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF or Fund) has been one of the nation’s most important tools for connecting our nation, including rural communities, low-income families, schools, libraries, and rural health care facilities. However, the funding mechanism that supports the Fund is under significant duress. The “contribution base” – the revenues used to calculate USF contributions – has declined 63% in the last two decades, from $79.9 billion in 2001 to $29.6 billion in 2021.
Results from a new survey of US adults reveal the extent to which people’s use of the internet has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, their views about how helpful technology has been for them and the struggles some have faced. The vast majority of adults (90%) say the internet has been at least important to them personally during the pandemic, the survey finds. The share who say it has been essential – 58% – is up slightly from 53% in April 2020.
Senate finishing crafting $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal, including $65 billion for broadband
Senate Democrats and Republicans unveiled a roughly $1 trillion proposal to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, setting in motion a long-awaited debate in the chamber to enact one of President Biden’s economic policy priorities. The roughly 2,700-page piece of legislation, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, includes $65 billion to expand broadband Internet access nationwide and ensure those who do have connectivity can afford their monthly payments.
This is a historic time for broadband investment. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the high costs of being offline. In response, Congress, over the past year, passed two laws—the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan—with an unprecedented amount of funding devoted to promoting digital equity. Communities should be engaged now to help craft long-term connectivity goals and ensure that diverse voices are part of the discussion—and that’s our job.
President Joe Biden and the bipartisan group of lawmakers announced agreement on the details of a once-in-a-generation investment in US infrastructure, which will be taken up in the Senate for consideration. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes a total $550 billion in new federal infrastructure investment.
Over four million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, the nation’s largest broadband affordability program to date. The $3.2 billion subsidy program initiated by Congress provides a temporary $50 to $75 discount on eligible households’ internet bills during the duration of the pandemic. “We’ve made terrific progress," said Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, "but the [Federal Communications Commission] remains committed to building on this initial momentum so we can connect as many families as possible and help those struggling to get online.” Since the p
New research from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Expanding Broadband in the Black Rural South, highlights the importance of addressing the digital divide—and doing it as soon as possible. The Joint Center examined the overlooked and unique plight of Black residents in rural counties with populations that are at least 35 percent Black (152 counties in 10 Southern states), which the Joint Center refers to as the “Black Rural So