NHMC Recommends Policies To Expand Internet Access In Poor Communities

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:

  • Supporting existing digital literacy efforts by allowing USF funds to be used to train and deploy teachers and librarians to public computer centers in schools and libraries so that they may remain open longer and provide more meaningful assistance to patrons;
  • Supporting current teachers and librarians who often lead technology training classes or provide point-of-service assistance to students and library patrons who turn to schools or libraries to complete many online tasks, such as using e-government websites, completing homework assignments, and applying for jobs, among other things;
  • Ensuring that schools and libraries in low-wealth communities can benefit from this support, even schools that cannot currently provide after hours access or libraries that already offer some type of training to patrons;
  • Granting automatic Lifeline eligibility to individuals who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children ("WIC") or the Homeless Veterans Program, both of which serve a large percentage of Latinos; and
  • Allowing low-wealth consumers to use their Lifeline benefits to purchase a bundled service offering, such as a "Triple Play" package that includes voice, broadband, and television service, while adopting measures that ensure fair pricing and allow customers to change freely to a more inexpensive service tier should they become unable to afford all services.
NHMC's comments are available for viewing here.]]>

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.
© 2024 National Hispanic Media Coalition // communications@nhmc.org // o. (626) 792-6462
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