According to an online report, Lifeline, a program that has made telephone service affordable to low-income Americans since 1985, for the first-time in its history will support stand-alone broadband service as well as bundled voice and data service packages. The rules will unlock the Lifeline broadband marketplace to attract additional providers, namely low-income Americans.
National Urban League President Marc H. Morial issued the following statement on Friday regarding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to reform and modernize Lifeline:
The National Urban League applauds the FCCs vote late yesterday to reform and modernize the Lifeline program. We have long been an advocate for the expansion of Lifeline to broadband. Broadband is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. The Internet plays a vital role in empowering our communities in access to education, healthcare, jobs, entrepreneurship and financial services. Ultimately, reforming Lifeline to include broadband upholds one of the key principles of universal service under the Communications Act–to have access to advanced telecommunications and information services. By expanding the subsidy to include broadband, the FCC has taken a big step to close the digital divide and the subsequent inequalities caused by that divide.
We especially applaud Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for her unflagging commitment in spearheading this effort. She understands the importance of expanding Lifeline to include broadband, and has rightly dubbed it the greatest equalizer of our time. She is a true champion for the communities we serve.
The National Urban League looks forward to learning all of the details contained in the Final Orderespecially those pertaining to the phase out of voice-only services. We will continue to monitor how and whether any other minimum standards of services affects the communities we serve.