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. 

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.

Our most vulnerable students need learning, internet now

Although the city of San Jose has neither authority nor budgetary responsibility over our 19 school districts, the city has a moral responsibility to support their critical work. Among the city’s many educational initiatives, it committed to close the digital divide in San Jose by launching the Digital Inclusion Partnership last year, to build digital skills and expand broadband access.

Stick to Principle

The principles we need to connect us were enshrined by a Republican-led Congress in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In the legislation, overwhelmingly approved by both Republicans and Democrats, the law mandates that the Federal Communications Commission to base policies for the preservation and advancement of universal service on principles including:

What the FCC Should Do Now to Support America and Our Learners

Here are five ideas about what the Federal Communications Commission can do, right now, to keep us as a country moving forward:

Education Leaders Push for Changes to Keep Americans Connected Pledge

So far, 723 telecommunications companies large and small have signed the Federal Communications Commission's "Keep Americans Connected" pledge. But according to a growing movement, many of those same companies — and especially the largest ones — need to "remove fine print from the internet pledge." A petition which currently has 13,112 signatures is asking FCC C

Cities Deploy Rapid Digital Inclusion Efforts Amid Crisis

Angelina Panettieri, the legislative manager for information technology and communications with the National League of Cities, is involved with efforts to connect cities with each other so they can share lessons learned during the crisis, and she, too, pointed to digital inclusion as one of the more pressing matters currently facing local leadership. It’s a challenge that faces both the public and private sector as well as city hall itself — how can organizations get devices into people’s hands so they can conduct all their business online?

Don’t forget broadband after lockdown

The coronavirus pandemic happened and, in a breath, home internet went from desired option to life-sustaining necessity. If the shutdown is responsible for limiting the spread of the infectious respiratory disease that has killed more than 1,100 Pennsylvanians in a month, then the internet is why it isn’t more. And that is why the World Wide Web has to be wide enough to work for the whole world.  Broadband access needs to be viewed as a utility little different from water or electricity or gas. It needs to be as accessible as the sidewalks that connect us to our schools and jobs and banks.

Coronavirus for kids without internet: Quarantined worksheets, learning in parking lots

 In the Symmes Valley Local School District in Lawrence County, in southern Ohio, Superintendent Darrell Humphreys estimates that less than 15% of his 800 students have “good internet,” capable of streaming video. The rural district has Wi-Fi in its two-building campus, when it’s open. But within a 30-minute drive there is no McDonald’s or other fast-food place that has an internet hot spot. In fact, “a large part of the district doesn’t even have cellphone service,” Humphreys said. Instead, assignment packets, about 20 pages each, have been mailed to each student’s home.