FCC To Vote On Subsidies For Broadband Service

Jun 9, 2015

Credit nrkbeta / https://www.flickr.com/photos/nrkbeta/

The Federal Communications Commission will vote this month on a plan to provide federal subsidies for high-speed internet access.

The proposal from FCC chairman Tom Wheeler would expand the Lifeline program that was created under President Reagan‘s administration in 1985, a program that provides monthly subsidies for low-income Americans to help them obtain home telephone service.

Lifeline was expanded to include mobile phones under President George W. Bush in 2008, and the new plan would allow households who qualify to apply for a $9.25 monthly subsidy to help cover the cost of either wired or wireless broadband.

Ball State University Director of Emerging Technologies Jonathan Huer says it’s only logical to extend the program to cover internet fees.

"Whether it is applying for a job or applying for school, all of those basic things that used to be done on paper or in person are largely done online," says Huer.

The expansion will likely be opposed by Congressional Republicans, who complain about previous fraud associated with Lifeline-- there have been some cases where recipients got more than one monthly subsidy for mobile service.

The FCC says fraud has been reduced since a database was created in 2012.

Others argue that those without high-speed web access at home are already accessing the internet through public schools or have access at public libraries.

The FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposal June 18.