This week is National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week. The Federal Communications Commission, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates mark this week to highlight the critical role of the he federal Lifeline program. Lifeline provides subsidies to low-income families for basic voice or broadband service,and has been a key component of promoting universal service for over three decades. Universal service and universal access to essential communications tools have been the cornerstone of U.S. communications policy dating to the 1930s.
Today, Public Knowledge joins 17 rural, consumer, community media, tech rights, academic, and civil rights groups in launching Broadband Connects America, a coalition dedicated to ensuring all Americans have access to high-speed broadband.
In Swanton, California, just over 50 miles outside of tech Mecca Silicon Valley, my family can’t get reliable internet. Though affordability remains the number one barrier to internet adoption, we don’t lack connection because of a budget crunch. Instead, we lack access because we live in a rural area and carriers like ours, AT&T, have stopped investing and maintaining internet infrastructure in less populated areas.
Today, Public Knowledge Foundation joined 17 other organizations to form the Broadband Connects America coalition. The Coalition is comprised of a wide range of consumer, rural, and social justice organizations committed to closing the digital divide. Coinciding with today’s launch, Broadband Connects America released the Principles to Connect Rural America -- five principles to serve as a foundation for policymakers and advocates to promote policies that work to bring broadband to millions of rural Americans.
Yesterday, the California State Assembly passed SB 822, a comprehensive Open Internet bill that will grant California residents the strongest net neutrality protections in the nation if it becomes law. The bipartisan bill passed 61-18 and will now return to the Senate before being sent to Governor Jerry Brown to sign or veto. Public Knowledge welcomes the bill and applauds California’s net neutrality activists for urging their state lawmakers to protect consumers over broadband providers.