Where's the Lifeline?

In the past 6 weeks, over 30 million people in the U.S. have filed initial claims for unemployment insurance. At a time when we are asked to stay at home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, many state agencies find themselves overwhelmed by the flood of claims, leaving millions with dwindling resources to pay rent or put food on the table or stay connected via telephone or broadband. A program at the Federal Communications Commission should be a lifeline to keep people connected.

The coronavirus crisis shines light on educational inequalities

The pandemic has exposed inequalities as education has moved online — work that can’t be performed at home, exposing usually lower-paid adults to greater risk; lack of access to child care and quality early learning; food insecurity; and a digital divide that prevents online learning during the crisis. Schools have stepped up to provide nutritional meals, computer equipment, Internet access and cover for essential workers, but they should not bear the burden alone.

Chairman Pai Extends Keep Americans Connected Pledge Through June 30

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced the extension of his Keep Americans Connected Pledge until June 30, 2020. While the FCC encourages all providers that have signed the pledge previously to extend their commitments to June 30, we understand that some providers, particularly those in small markets and rural areas, may not be able to do so as a result of financial challenges. Those providers should contact by May 12 if they wish to opt out of the extension.

House Democrats Announce Plan to Connect All Americans to Affordable Broadband Internet

The House Democratic Plan to Connect All Americans to Affordable Broadband Internet—an updated and expanded version of the broadband provisions of House Democrats’ Moving America Forward Framework—is the product of significant collaboration between the Rural Broadband Task Force, the Commerce Committee, and many Members of the House Democratic Caucus. 

Invest in Internet Infrastructure

The FCC says all Americans are gaining advanced Internet access. It's wrong.

On April 24, the Federal Communications Commission released the nation's 2020 Broadband Progress Report. It concludes that broadband is being delivered to all Americans in a reasonable and timely way. But from where I sit, nothing could be further from the truth. I refused to offer my support for the 2020 Broadband Progress Report. That's because, in this crisis, it has become painfully clear that not everyone in the US has adequate Internet access. The evidence is all around us. We need to set broadband baseline standard to 100 megabits per second.

FCC Eases Lifeline Process for Unemployed Americans During Pandemic

The Federal Communications Commission made it easier for individuals who have lost their employment during the coronavirus pandemic and who qualify for Lifeline benefits to enroll in the Lifeline program. Specifically, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau temporarily waived the requirement that consumers seeking to qualify for the program based on their income must provide at least three consecutive months of income documentation. 

Members of Congress, Digital-Rights and Social-Justice Advocates Call for COVID-19 Legislation to Support Phone and Internet Access for All

Access Now, Common Sense Media, Consumer Reports, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, Libraries Without Borders, MediaJustice, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge jointly delivered more than 110,000 petition signatures to the Congress.

INCOMPAS Files ‘Communications Marketplace Report’ Comments with FCC

INCOMPAS, the internet and competitive networks association, is urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt a stronger approach to encouraging competition across all markets.

Groups Petition Congress for Broadband Billions During Pandemic

Backed by Sens Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a dozen internet access activist groups have generated over 110,000 signatures on a petition to Congress to include funds in the next COVID-19 aid bill to make sure every American has internet and phone service during the pandemic. The groups backing the petition are Access Now, Common Sense Media, Consumer Reports, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, Libraries Without Borders, MediaJustice, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institu

A new chance to close the digital divide

The “digital divide” in the accessibility of telecommunications services remains far too wide — and that current needs give urgency to closing it. A lack of sufficient Internet access is very likely keeping 12 million students from doing distance learning while their schools are closed.And the more that low-income communities are dependent on temporary grace from telecom providers, the more they have to lose when this is all over. New ideas are clearly required.