On Monday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated that the organization will be looking for ways to enhance and expand Lifeline. Lifeline is a program geared towards low-income households designed to provide inexpensive telecommunications.
Originally, Lifeline was created to offer assistance to low-income households in need of telephone connectivity. Those in the program were able to get as much as $10 off their telephone bill, whether it be a landline or mobile phone. However, in recent years, reliance on phones have dwindled as more and more people are choosing the internet as their primary source of connectivity.
“The Lifeline program is outdated,” commented Chairman Genachowski. “It’s focused on phones when high-speed internet has become our vital communications plan.”
In order to make Lifeline more relevant, Genachowshi hope to bring the three following enhancements to the program:
- A pilot program which will help determine the implementation of broadband connectivity in Lifeline.
- Create training programs designed to increase digital literacy in schools and libraries.
- Further expand broadband access and adoption rates.
All of these enhancements are expected to further build upon the FCC’s dedication, as stated in the National Broadband Plan of 2010, to increasing the access to broadband access.
President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Wade Henderson, agreed with the FCC’s actions. However, in spite of support still expressed concern for the relatively large gap between those that have and those that have not in terms of technological means.
If the new enhancements to Lifeline come into effect it will better help those who had previously been without broadband access stay better connected to their friends, family, and the world around them in terms of news and media. The initiatives may even be able to help rural communities modernize in the future by helping to connect voip ptoviders with those wanting business voip in their own establishments – however, such feats are at least a year or two away.
Regardless, if Lifeline is updated it will not only bring greater connectivity to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access, but it will streamline the program overall to reduce spending by $2 billion over the span of a couple of years. Saving money while getting internet to the masses? Sounds like a great idea for those still living on the fringes of our technologically driven world.
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