The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote March 31 on a new proposal from the FCC’s chairman and a fellow commissioner to expand broadband Internet access among low-income households. It would modernize FCC’s “Lifeline” program, which provides low-income households with monthly subsidies to help cover basic telephone services, by subsidizing broadband services as well. Increasing broadband access would help many low-income households and their children overcome a large obstacle to advancement and, as such, the proposal is both justified and overdue.
Less than half of low-income households have a high-speed Internet connection at home, despite mounting evidence that Internet use has become central to fully participating in modern society. As, for example, this CBPP report details, broadband access is critically important to:
Low-income households face several barriers to obtaining broadband access, the chief of which is cost, a 2015 Pew Research Center study found. It also found that “Roughly two-thirds (69%) of Americans indicate that not having a home high-speed internet connection would be a major disadvantage to finding a job, getting health information or accessing other key information — up from 56% who said this in 2010.”