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.
Yesterday, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and other House and Senate Democrats revealed a universal high-speed internet plan as part of the party’s “Better Deal” platform. The “Better Deal” internet plan aims to “bring high-speed internet to every farm, school, and neighborhood” across America, focusing on the less profitable rural and urban areas that have been left behind.
An enterprising farmer who wants to expand his steak and dairy business but can’t reach beyond his locality. A librarian who sleeps over nights and weekends so that students can come work on projects they’ve been given online. A disabled, bedridden young woman who desperately wants to be self-sufficient but has no access to online education. Two sisters who watch their father die before their eyes because they can’t get a signal to call 911.
The average South Korean can choose between three major private internet providers –SKT, KT and LG U+ – and pay less than $30 a month for the fastest internet in the world. That’s $17 less than what the average American pays for a much slower internet hookup. But why? How is it possible that the citizens of the last developed democracy have a faster and more affordable internet than Americans? The simple answer to this question is that in the 1990s South Koreans decided that their country needed a fast and affordable internet provided by a vibrant private sector, and there was the political willingness, and a national plan, to achieve that goal.