NHMC Applauds FCC's Proposed Lifeline Modernization

For Immediate Release: March 8, 2016 Contact: Christina DiPasquale, 202.716.1953, Christina@balestramedia.com Details of Lifeline Draft Order Released by FCC Would Improve Program and Make Broadband More Affordable, Says National Hispanic Media Coalition Draft Order Allows Subsidy to Cover Broadband and Streamline Process for Providers and Consumers to Participate Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn released details of the draft order on the modernization of Lifeline in a blog post today including, for the first time, a recognition of the importance of Internet access and moving the program to broadband. The FCC is poised to vote on the order at its March 31open meeting. The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), which endorsed many of the proposals laid out today by the FCC and has advocated for many years to move the program to broadband, released the following statement from Michael Scurato, Vice President of Policy: “After many years of advocacy, we are pleased to be on the cusp of implementing improvements to Lifeline that reflect the way that people communicate in the 21st century. While voice service is still critical, the FCC’s focus on allowing this program to meaningfully support broadband could be a significant win for low-income consumers across the country–and for the country as a whole. We know that access to communications services, including broadband, is necessary for lifting families out of poverty and allowing traditionally underserved communities to participate in our economy, democracy, and society. Attempting to overcome the barrier posed by the high cost of services is an important effort. “We have demonstrated for our leaders in Washington that Lifeline is a critical investment in our communities—one which we feel will bring significant returns. We thank Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner Clyburn, and Commissioner Rosenworcel for always treating it that way. While we are optimistic, the work is not over yet. We will be evaluating the Commission’s proposal over the course of the coming weeks to ensure that everything included has an eye towards our longstanding, nationwide goal of universal service." In their blog, Chairman Wheeler and Commission Clyburn outlined several key Lifeline Program reforms—including proposing minimum service standards and streamlining the process by which consumers and service providers participate in the program. Lifeline currently offers a modest subsidy of $9.25 to low-income families struggling to afford basic landline or wireless phone service. According to the Pew Research Center, half of Latino households lack home Internet access, with high cost being the most frequently-cited reason for non-adoption. The number of Americans who subscribe to home broadband has declined significantly in recent years, lagging most among diverse communities, the poor, seniors, people with disabilities and the less educated. An ardent supporter of Lifeline for the past decade, NHMC has been very active in the Commission’s ongoing modernization process over the past year, filing comments and reply comments in the FCC’s current open proceeding. In addition to participating in proceedings, NHMC has also testified before Congress multiple times on Lifeline’s potential to help more families get online and stay connected to vital employment opportunities, educational resources, and government resources. Recently, NHMC joined a letter submitted by civil rights groups, public interest advocates, and communications companies urging the FCC to act swiftly to modernize the program. Lifeline has evolved since its inception under President Ronald Reagan in 1985. It was updated to include access to wireless phone services under George W. Bush’s Administration in 2005, and it was also significantly reformed to improve program integrity in 2012. ###]]>

National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a woman-led 501(c)(3) non-profit civil and human rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism toward the Latino communities.
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