Communication at a distance, especially the electronic transmission of signals via the telephone
Lacking a Lifeline: How a federal effort to help low-income Americans pay their phone bills failed amid the pandemic
The coronavirus has reinforced the Internet as the fabric of modern American life, a luxury-turned-necessity for a generation now forced to work, learn and communicate primarily through the Web. But it also has laid bare the country’s inequalities — and the role Washington has played in exacerbating these long-known divides.
On Friday, May 31, the Federal Communications Commission launched a proceeding to seek comment on establishing an overall cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF). USF programs provide subsidies that make telecommunications and broadband services more available and affordable for millions of Americans. The NPRM asks a lot of questions over how to cap the programs. But a crucial one we ask: Does this NPRM actually move the U.S. closer to closing the digital divide?
The Benton Foundation unequivocally opposes any proposals from the Federal Communications Commission that would allow the FCC to shirk its responsibilities to meet its Congressionally-mandated mission. The FCC is supposed to ensure:
On March 12, 2019, I was honored to appear before the Senate Communications Subcommittee to testify on “The Impact of Broadband Investments in Rural America.” I provided my personal views, bringing the perspective of a former government official with 22 years of experience at the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, with the last decade focused on the FCC’s Connect America Fund. My five-minute opening statement follows:
[Editorial] The Benton Foundation has joined literally hundreds of organizations that are asking the Federal Communications Commission to ensure Lifeline voice and broadband service for low-income households, with minimal disruption to the people who depend on the program for a consistent connection to the world via their telephone or internet connection. We're asking that the FCC:
The Federal Communications Commission took steps to transform its Lifeline program. A Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order changes FCC rules to:
[Commentary] Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is setting a record pace for deregulating the communications industries. Believe it or not, things are about to get worse in Nov. Starting with the FCC’s open meeting on Nov 16, the agency is poised to approve or propose no fewer than four decisions that will deregulate consolidated industries, remove consumer protections, and widen the digital divide:
Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr is in Mississippi for events focused on his 5G jobs initiative, which centers on standing up community college and trade school programs so that Americans earn the skills needed to land good-paying jobs in the tower and telecommunication industries. Those programs have already been launched in SC, SD, NC, and OK. His visits will also focus on telehealth, infrastructure builds, and enhanced use of technology in K-12 classrooms.
AT&T announced it would be spinning off its TV business — including DirecTV, AT&T TV, and U-verse — in a deal it claimed would greatly benefit the company’s customers, employees, and shareholders. The deal provides AT&T with a $7.8 billion cash infusion to pay down debt and recent wireless spectrum purchases, and a 70 percent stake in the “new” DirecTV.
A Q&A with Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.