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.
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.
As the debate about investing in broadband infrastructure continues in Washington this month, it was heartening to see that President Joseph Biden acted to address competition in residential broadband service. Here's a quick look at what he did. On July 9, President Biden signed an Executive Order launching a "whole-of-government" effort to promote competition across the economy. The Executive Order includes 72 initiatives.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit has thus far enrolled just 1 in 12 eligible households, but places with low broadband adoption rates show better results
Two weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission released data on how many households have signed up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), a program created by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers eligible households a discount of up to $50 per month on broadband service.
Launched in June 2020, the Chicago Connected program provided a bridge to learning for more than 64,000 Chicago Public Schools students who didn’t have the connectivity or speed to access their remote lessons from home. An inspiring commitment on the part of Chicago’s philanthropy, business, government and nonprofit sectors, Chicago Connected has been replicated in cities across the country and is the national model for bridging the urban digital divide.
Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program enrolled more than one million households in the program's first week. Households in all 50 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa are benefitting from the subsidy program initiated by Congress. Households can qualify several ways such as through their use of existing assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Lifeline or if a child relies on reduced-price school meals programs.
This week, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules for the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, providing $7.171 billion for schools and libraries for the purchase of connected devices and broadband connections for use by students, school staff, and library patrons at locations other than a school or library.
In the coming days, we will see major progress on a $10+ billion federal investment in digital inclusion. This moment is unprecedented. We've never seen such a large commitment to making broadband service affordable for all. And, as Congress starts to focus on long-term solutions for universal broadband, we're seeing the potential for more digital inclusion investment in the coming months.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will start May 12, 2021. Eligible households will be able to enroll in the Program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider.