Yesterday, NMHC, Free Press, Center for Media Justice, and Color of Change, members of the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition (Voices), filed joint comments asking the FCC to reinstate nine Lifeline Broadband Providers (LBPs) that had their designation revoked last month. The filing also asks the Commission to swiftly implement last year’s Lifeline Modernization Order to help low-income families access broadband and to bridge the digital divide.
Voices expressed disappointment with the Wireline Bureau’s Revocation Order because it erodes Lifeline’s promise by eliminating subsidized broadband opportunities and introducing uncertainty into the program. The Revocation Order also jeopardizes service to over 17,500 current Boomerang subscribers, as well as low-income consumers who stood to benefit from offerings in south Chicago and the New York Housing Authority Queensbridge multi-residential housing site, among several other communities. Voices argued that Revocation Order rehashed old claims of “waste, fraud, and abuse” within Lifeline that were overblown and not relevant to the certifications of the nine LBPs. The comment concludes, “absent any specific evidence of wrongdoing relevant to the LBP certification process, the Commission should reinstate these nine LBPs, while continuing to monitor the program for potential waste, fraud, and abuse using the well-established enforcement mechanisms in place.”
Voices also noted that the FCC’s swift implementation of the Lifeline Modernization Order is critical to bridging the digital divide, and that the Commission should implement and adhere to the LBP designation process. By addressing the main barrier to home broadband adoption, Lifeline has the potential to bridge the digital divide that disproportionately impacts low-income people and communities of color.
You can read more about Lifeline modernization and NHMC’s efforts here.