Affordable Communication Is Under Attack

The support structures that assist low-income families cannot work unless those in need have functional means of communication. Doctors monitoring children with fragile health, employers who can offer an extra shift to a struggling worker, nutrition support programs like SNAP which must confirm income eligibility — all these must be able to communicate with a low-income person, often within limited timeframes. Our collective and individual economic well-being is dependent on communications tools.

Discount Internet Guidebook

This guidebook has a twofold purpose. It is a practical guide for digital inclusion practitioners -- local community-based organizations, libraries, housing authorities, government agencies, and others working directly with community members in need of affordable home broadband service. This guidebook also contains recommendations for policymakers and internet service providers to improve current offers and establish new offers.

Lifeline Awareness Week: In 2018, Protecting Universal Service Is More Important Than Ever

Sept 10-14 is National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week. The Federal Communications Commission, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates mark this week to highlight the critical role of the he federal Lifeline program. Despite the tangible benefits of Lifeline, in 2017 the FCC proposed substantial changes to Lifeline that would severely damage the program and harm the low-income and vulnerable families that rely on Lifeline for basic connectivity.

More than 4,300 Arkansas residents lose Medicaid under work requirements. The Digital Divide played a roll

Several thousand poor residents of Arkansas have been dropped from Medicaid because they failed to meet new requirements, the first Americans to lose the safety-net health insurance under rules compelling recipients to work or prepare for a job to keep their coverage. Under Arkansas Works, the state’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, able-bodied adults must go online every month and report their hours of work or other community engagement.

Starry, the startup that is trying to beam cheap internet into low-income communities

Based in Boston, the internet provider Starry has launched Starry Connect, an initiative that equips the common areas, computer rooms, and hallways of the Boston Housing Authority’s Ausonia Apartments with free 5G internet for residents. More public housing developments, both in Boston and in other cities like Los Angeles, will come online soon through the program.

Baltimore public housing residents given tablets, internet connection under initiative to connect more online

The Housing Authority of Baltimore City gave away 500 tablets with two-year internet subscriptions to their tenants as part of an effort to confront the digital divide, the virtual disconnect from information and opportunities that disproportionately affects low-income and minority families. Under the initiative, the housing authority selected 500 residents who are enrolled in various self-sufficiency programs to receive the devices. In exchange, the residents committed to staying active in the programs for the next two years. They get to keep the tablets.

Comcast Says Its Internet Essentials Has Now Helped 6 Million Low-Income Americans

Comcast has announced that its subsidized Internet program Internet Essentials has now been provided to six million low-income Americans, and that it will expand the program to nearly one million low-income military veterans. Comcast said it has connected two million users to Internet Essentials just in the last year—its largest annual increase to date.

FCC Seeks Comments on Launching Telehealth Pilot Program

The Federal Communications Commission is exploring the creation of an experimental “Connected Care Pilot Program” to support the delivery of advanced telehealth services to low-income Americans. In a Notice of Inquiry (NOI), the FCC seeks comment on creating a Universal Service Fund pilot program to promote the use of broadband-enabled telehealth services among low-income families and veterans, with a focus on services delivered directly to patients beyond the doors of brick-and-mortar health care facilities. The NOI seeks comment on:

FCC Seeks Comment on NTCA Petition for Temporary Waiver from Lifeline Minimum Service Standards

The Federal Communications Commission seeks comment on the Petition for Temporary Waiver filed by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA). NTCA, on behalf of its members and similarly situated operators, requests a temporary waiver from the Bureau’s updated Lifeline minimum service standards, “applicable to fixed, wireline broadband Internet access service . . . eligible for support by the Lifeline Universal Service Fund . . .

Stoping the 5G Digital Divide Before It Happens

As predicted 10 years ago, in the absence of anti-redlining provisions, carriers have not invested in upgrading their broadband capacity in communities of color at anything close to the same rate they have upgraded in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods. As a result, the urban digital divide is once again growing. It’s not just that high-speed broadband is ridiculously expensive, although this is also a serious barrier to adoption in urban areas.