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Modernizing E-Rate Brings U.S. One Step Closer to Digital Equity

On December 11th, the Federal Communications Commission voted to move forward with much needed and long awaited reforms to our nation’s E-rate program. With a 3-2 vote, Democratic Commissioners moved forward on a process that allocates $1 billion annually for expanded Wi-Fi connections in our schools and libraries.

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A Reason to Celebrate: FCC Examines Future of the Phone Network

Today is a step forward for the 303 million people residing the in U.S. who depend on some kind of phone service for their personal, business, and emergency communications. This morning the Federal Communication Commission voted to move forward on two proposals that examine the future of the phone network and 911 emergency services. This vote builds on the FCC’s bipartisan, unanimous consensus around core network values that include public safety, universal access, competition, and consumer protection.

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Will the FCC Create an Internet for the 1%?

This week, the Federal Communications Commission released information about new draft rules for an open internet. This followed the U.S. Court of Appeals decision which struck down the legal path used to implement the original Open Internet rules, but upheld the FCC’s authority to do so under section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, or via reclassification of broadband as a “Title II” service.

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New Prison Phone Rate Caps Adopted by the FCC Go Into Effect Today.

As of February 11, families of detained and incarcerated loved ones will no longer have to pay predatory phone bills to stay connected. Today, on February 11th 2014, the new rate caps adopted by the Federal Communications Commission for telephone calls to people in prison, jail or detention centers will go into effect. These rate […]

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Two Court Decisions and What They Mean for Communities of Color

This week, the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals ruled in two separate decisions that impact how communities of color communicate. The first decision affects what companies can charge individuals to stay connected with loved ones in prison. The second determined whether or not the internet will remain a neutral and open platform.


Last year, after over a decade of advocacy by prison reform advocates, and including more recent involvement by grassroots organizers, civil rights, and media and telecom public interest organizations, the Federal Communications Commission passed a long over-due petition that tackled the practice of exorbitant prison phone rates.  Before the FCC stepped in, these rates generated as much as $15 for a single 15-minute call.

Earlier this week the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals ordered a stay on these rules. While their decision upheld what public interest advocates consider the most important part – mandating that prison phone providers charge no more than .25 per minute for debit calls, and .21 per minute for collect calls – other provisions intended to protect families and loved ones of prisoners are stayed.

The provisions that were stayed include mandating that services provided by prison phone companies be cost based, and the “safe harbor” rates of .12 and .14 per minute. Provisions that could extend further relief to the families of the almost 2.3 million individuals behind bars today. As it stands now, communities of color are disproportionately impacted by incarceration in the U.S. 1 in every 3 African American males, and 1 out of every 6 Latinos will likely experience incarceration during their lifetime, with the burden of paying for the high costs of calls falling on their families.

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