Lifeline Fans Queue Up

Diverse range of groups praise FCC vote on reforms

The FCC drew a crowd of Lifeline reform fans to its vote Thursday (March 31) to expand the Lifeline low-income advanced telecommunications subsidy to standalone broadband and boost the fund to $2.25 billion.

“Broadband connectivity is essential to full participation in society, but for too long, low-income households have been forced to rely on spotty connectivity at fast food restaurants and coffee shops," said Todd O’Boyle, program director at Common Cause. "Thanks to today’s vote, more families will have access to the greatest engine for economic, educational and civic opportunity ever created. Kudos to the majority at the FCC.”

Other groups rangiing from the American Library Association to the United Church of Christ to Demand progress also praised the vote.

“Broadband is essential to full participation in today’s digital age, and the American Library Association (ALA) commends the commission for including broadband support as part of a modernized Lifeline program. With affordable, high-quality broadband access at the library, at school, and now within reach for millions more people at home, the Commission continues to fulfill its universal service mission."

--Sari Feldman, president, American Library Association

“The FCC has helped to advance our understanding that access to high-speed Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Adults need it to apply for jobs, upgrade their skills, access government services, and fully participate in our Democracy. And children and teens need it to complete their schoolwork, explore ideas and learn online, and seek answers about their health."

--James Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, which has been a driving force behind the expanding high speed broadband to schools and libraries

“By voting to bring the Lifeline program into the 21st century, the FCC will be taking a crucial step in narrowing our country’s digital divide and ensuring that all Americans have access to the essential communications services they need to live, learn, and work in today’s digital age."

--Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

"Cost of access is a tremendous, documented barrier to broadband adoption. By modernizing the Lifeline program to support broadband, the FCC is taking a critical step to ensure that a our country's most vulnerable households have affordable access to a vital service that many of us take for granted."

--Sarah Morris, senior counsel and director of Open Internet Policy at the Open Technology Institute of the New America Foundation

"Chairman Wheeler’s Lifeline modernization proposal is a critical step toward making broadband affordable for all Americans. Access to broadband Internet service has become a necessity in modern America."

--Phillip Berenbroick, counsel for government affairs, Public Knowledge

“This subsidy is an important step toward ensuring that all Americans can share in the benefits that broadband access provides. We applaud the leadership of chairman Tom Wheeler and commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel in moving forward to help close the digital divide."

--Chris Shelton, president, Communications Workers of America

“The vote to modernize Lifeline and to provide the first nationwide subsidy for low-income household access to broadband service will make a huge difference in the lives of tens of millions of families. United Church of Christ's media justice ministry and its partners in the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights have been asking for the Lifeline program to subsidize broadband access since 2010. Congratulations to commissioner Clyburn for her vision and tenacity, to chairman Wheeler for his leadership and to commissioner Rosenworcel for her efforts to close the homework gap.”

--Cheryl Leanza, advisor, United Church of Christ

“In just the past week, over 15,000 Demand Progress members signed a petition calling on the FCC to modernize the Lifeline program. Expanding access to broadband is a crucial step in diminishing the inequality created by the digital divide, which poses a direct threat to our democracy and economy.”

--Mark Stanley, director of operations and communications, Demand Progress

“We applaud the FCC’s modernization of the Lifeline program that will help to bring the transformative benefits of the Internet to millions of low-income Americans. In addition to moving the Lifeline program into the 21st century by expanding it to include broadband, the FCC also took important steps to ensure the program benefits from increased administrative efficiency. By establishing a national system for verifying consumer eligibility for the program, the FCC can work toward reducing instances of waste, fraud, and abuse. We look forward to working with the commission to implement the changes in the program.”

--Walter McCormick, president, US Telecom