Petition is successful with 18,045 signatures
To: Tom Wheeler, Chairmain of the Federal Communications Commission
URGE THE FCC TO CLOSE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE!
This campaign has ended.
Please vote to expand the Lifeline Program to include affordable broadband services. Currently more than 100 million people live without equal access, and the expansion would deliver an affordable broadband choice to millions of low-income Americans.
Affordable broadband is key to democracy in that it addresses deepening racial and economic disparities. Right now we are facing a 16 to 1 wealth gap between Black and White Americans and a Black unemployment rate that is twice as high as the rest of the country. Modernizing the Lifeline program and extending it to include broadband ensures that our communities can access jobs, education and other essential needs.
By including minimum service standards, an expanded and streamlined eligibility process, and no caps that limit participation in the program, we can get families not only connected, but thriving in our ever-expanding digital economy.
Why is this important?
Lifeline is a federal program that has connected millions of qualifying low-income households to telephones for more than 30 years. It was established in 1985 to ensure that every resident in the country could access a telephone in the home. At the time, telephones were viewed as an essential utility, like electricity or water. Lifeline, through a modest subsidy, ensures that every family who can’t afford a telephone connection, can do so through this program. In 2005, the program was updated to include cell phone services. Now, with more and more people relying on the Internet to meet many of their personal needs, Lifeline must be expanded to include broadband access. Low-income communities deserve an Internet that is affordable, reliable, and accessible and supports their ability to participate in society.
In a society where it has become a requirement that job applicants, employees, students, patients, bank customers, and consumers use the Internet for basic services, broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity. That's why we're calling on the FCC to treat it as such and ensure that low-income families have access to this vital service through updated Lifeline rules.
As a Lifeline subscriber, I know how important this program is to helping connect people to the tools they need to communicate. I live in New Orleans, LA and have a son who is incarcerated in Texas a 10 hours drive away from me. The only way I can communicate with him is through a landline telephone in my home. He can't call my cell phone because the prison telephone operator won't allow it. With my other expenses, affording an additional telephone was going to be a challenge but then I heard about the Lifeline program. Lifeline helps low-income families by subsidizing a portion of their telephone or cell phone bill. It helped me be able to afford a landline in my home.
The Lifeline program is now being expanded to help families connect to the Internet. For me this is important because I use the Internet everyday for school. I'm currently taking online courses and pursuing a degree in criminal justice. The Internet is also a place where I find resources to send to my son. As a mother and a student, the Internet is so important but it is also expensive. I know the Lifeline program can help people like me who need the extra help to get ahead. Please consider supporting this petition because the Federal Communications Commission will soon vote on whether to reform the Lifeline program.
How it will be delivered
On Wednesday, a coalition of advocates and families will be traveling to DC to meet with the Federal Communications Commission. This is one of the last opportunities everyday folks have to talk to these critical decision-makers face-to-face before a March 31st vote on new Lifeline rules.