Lawmakers call for extending Lifeline program to broadband

June 1, 2015

U.S. senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) today introduced legislation to extend the Universal Service Fund (USF) Lifeline Assistance Program by allowing for broadband Internet services to be available to eligible households, according to the Bergen Dispatch. The Broadband Adoption Act of 2015 would instruct the FCC to enable the Lifeline program to make in-home online access more affordable.

The action follows a previously reported request for comment from the FCC on extending its Lifeline program to cover broadband access. The program has covered phone service for low-income individuals since 1985.

Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president and director of policy of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement regarding the bill:

“For Americans trying to move out of poverty and succeed in our modern economy, broadband access is absolutely crucial. This bill will help put modern communication services within reach for some of our nation’s most vulnerable communities, helping low-income households afford the broadband access they need to thrive in today’s information age.

“High-speed Internet today is vital to accessing job opportunities, health care, social services, and education. But for millions of low-income and minority Americans—the people who are in most need of the advantages of broadband—such service is simply out of reach. By helping reduce the high cost of broadband services, this bill will help narrow the digital divide and move our nation toward an inclusive economic recovery.

“We thank Representative Matsui and Senators Murphy and Booker for introducing this important legislation, and urge their colleagues to support its passage.”

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