Last year, the Federal Communications Commission voted to modernize the Lifeline program for the digital age to help low-income families, veterans, and children gain access to the internet. This week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is poised to initiate steps to drastically roll back the program, ultimately leaving millions of Lifeline subscribers and eligible families without a service provider.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will undo years of the FCC’s work to improve wireless deployments in rural areas, close the digital divide, and promote spectrum use by a wide range of users with diverse and innovative business models in the 150 megahertz between 3550-3700 MHz (the 3.5 GHz Band or Band). Adopting the NPRM is the first step to undermining the FCC’s work in the 3.5 GHz Band, and represents a rare lose-lose-lose scenario in spectrum policy making.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission took a major step to help all Americans connect to the Internet. The FCC voted to adopt an Order that, for the first time, allows low-income subscribers to use the Lifeline subsidy to help pay for critical Internet service that connects us all to education, jobs, healthcare, commerce, and other services.
As Public Knowledge has often noted, unlicensed spectrum is a key component of the mobile broadband ecosystem. Unlicensed spectrum enables our increasingly Wi-Fi dependent world, and is a “public commons” of sorts for innovators because these frequencies are open for any person and any device to use, for any (legal) purpose. Unlicensed spectrum bands are the innovation bands.
Last month, Public Knowledge filed comments urging the Federal Communications Commission to modernize its Lifeline program to support broadband Internet access service. Today, we submitted reply comments to explain that the FCC has overwhelming support to move forward and update the program.
In recent years, broadband Internet access service has become essential for Americans to participate in economic life and society. Although most Americans subscribe to some type of Internet service, low-income households adopt broadband at significantly lower rates than those with higher incomes. Less than half of households with incomes below $25,000 per year have broadband service, while 95 percent of those earning over $150,000 have access. As a result, families who are already economically disadvantaged are falling farther behind.
For many Americans, live sports are the last piece of television content that is appointment viewing. And for many Americans, the only thing of value on television is the NFL. The fact that fans want to watch sports live, along with the sheer number of viewers of NFL games, makes live streaming of sports content vital to the future of online video.
For nearly all Americans, broadband is an indispensable service that makes it possible for them to communicate, transact commerce, and participate in civic life. In fact, broadband is so critical that last month Senator Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and a bipartisan group of 60 senators, called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) to ensure that rural Americans have access to high-speed broadband.