NHMC Recommends Policies To Expand Internet Access In Poor Communities
Mon, 04/02/2012 - 22:00 — mscurato
Urges FCC To Fund Digital Literacy Training And Labor Costs In Schools And Libraries
Washington, D.C. - April 3, 2012 - Last night the National Hispanic Media Coalition ("NHMC") filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC" or "Commission"), recommending ways for the agency to achieve its goal to expand broadband Internet access to everyone across the United States. NHMC has been very dedicated to this issue, especially in light of the fact that Latinos are less likely to have home broadband connections than any other racial or ethnic group. NHMC urges the Commission to: enhance broadband access in schools and libraries; expand eligibility for the Lifeline program that subsidizes telephone connections for poor families; and develop a safe and effective way for low-wealth consumers to use their Lifeline phone benefits on bundled services that include broadband. NHMC submitted these comments in a proceeding intended to modernize the Universal Service Fund ("USF"), a fund that the federal government administers to ensure universal telecommunications services for all Americans.
"In my former career as a public school teacher, I taught many children that did not have home Internet access. My students had nowhere to turn for computer and Internet access. Libraries have lines and time limits, and lately, many have shorter hours due to budget cuts. School computer labs are often closed after school hours. I saw firsthand that the have-nots were falling behind the haves in attaining a true 21st century education. The same was true for these students' parents. They need a place to go, not only to unleash the rich opportunities that the Internet provides, but also to fulfill very basic needs and demands. The FCC has invested heavily in connecting schools and libraries to broadband. Now it must ensure that it makes the most of these investments. This is about creating opportunities in poor communities, about establishing an equal playing field for the most vulnerable people in our society," said Jessica J. González, NHMC's Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs.
In its comments, NHMC proposes a number of specific ways for the FCC to accomplish its universal service goals, including:
NHMC's comments are available for viewing here.