New America Urges FCC to Authorize $2.2 Billion in Available E-Rate Funds to Connect Students Left Behind During COVID-19 Pandemic

New America’s Open Technology Institute called on the Federal Communications Commission to use its existing authority and universal service budget to extend connectivity to students without broadband access to help facilitate remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the emergency request filing, OTI urges the FCC to act to empower schools and libraries to close the homework gap using the Universal Service Fund (USF) and E-Rate and Lifeline programs. 

Phone, internet providers extend service yet some still disconnected from lifelines during coronavirus pandemic

At a time when all Ohioans are being asked to stay at home to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases, phones, cellphones and internet connections are often a lifeline, connecting people to doctors, social services, unemployment, news, religious services, loved ones, and school lessons.

Legislators Push for $2 Billion for Broadband

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) have written to their respective leadership asking to set aside $2 billion in the next Covid recovery/stimulus bill for rural broadband connectivity. “In recent weeks, unemployment claims have surged, and schools across the country have closed in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, leaving many Americans—including low-income families and students—without critical internet connectivity," they said.

San Francisco Partnership to Increase Free Internet Access to Support Distance Learning

Mayor London Breed announced a partnership between the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and national nonprofit organizations EducationSuperHighway and the 1Million Project Foundation to provide connectivity support for thousands of students in San Francisco who lack home internet access, including the deployment of up to 25 WiFi “SuperSpots.” As part of the new Digital Bridge project, the SuperSpots will be installed in locations to serve students from underserved communities who need to participate in distance learning due to COVID-19 and related school closures.

Sen Wyden Leads Colleagues in Demanding Expanded Internet Access for Low-Income Americans Throughout COVIC-19 Crisis

Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) led a group of his colleagues to demand better mobile internet service for low-income Americans impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The federal Lifeline service program, administered by the Federal Communications Commission, provides free and discounted voice, text and cellular internet service to 9 million low-income Americans. The senators requested Lifeline service providers take a number of steps to expand their service:

Newly Unemployed Need Lifeline

Over 10 million newly-unemployed Americans are being urged if not ordered to shelter in place for their own health and that of their communities. A broadband connection makes it possible for their children to continue to learn, for workers to look for new jobs, and for families to connect with doctors and loved ones. Fortunately, the Federal Communications Commission has a tool that can keep these people connected, the Lifeline program.

Commissioner Rosenworcel on Weekly Jobless Report Showing 6.6 Million New Unemployment Claims

Today’s announcement is a sad indication of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s economy and on the livelihood of so many people that find themselves newly out of work. As the coronavirus places new strains on our economy and households across the country, we need to make sure that no one is left behind when it comes to communications. Now is the time to see how we can modernize our Lifeline program and extend its reach to so many in need. This includes the millions of recently unemployed, seniors, and others at risk at this difficult time.

Keeping Lifeline Subscribers Connected During COVID-19

To help Americans stay connected during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau:

Coronavirus has made the digital divide more dangerous than ever

Living indoors to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, millions of Americans are turning to the Internet to meet their most pressing needs. This massive shift online poses troubling barriers to the least digitally connected Americans. The disconnectedness may force individuals to make devastating decisions and undermine the fight against the coronavirus.