The Lifeline Program has worked for three decades as the only government program dedicated to bringing phone and internet service within reach for people of color, the poor, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and the less educated. It offers a modest discount of $9.25 a month to low-income families who participate in certain assistance programs or are at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Nearly 13 million low-income Americans used the program, only about one-third of those who are eligible.
Economic progress and educational opportunity are bipartisan, and NHMC urges policymakers to remember that nearly half of all Latino households remain offline, with cost often cited as a common barrier. NHMC encouraged the FCC to modernize the program, allowing the discount to be applied to internet access, in addition to phone services, to meet the needs of Latino consumers. Such assistance for families gives them the opportunity to search online to find employment, health care, educational and civic resources afforded exclusively through internet access.
The organization’s policy team regularly meets with staff at the Federal Communications Commission to make inroads to bridge the digital divide, with a focus on ways to maintain and improve Lifeline, including allowing and encouraging Internet Service Providers to offer the program to their subscribers.