Low-income households to benefit from subsidised broadband in the US


The House of Representatives has seen a proposal for new legislation which would see a government programme receive an update regarding telecommunications subsidies.

The Broadband Adoption Act of 2013, which is backed by Rep. Doris Matsui, would provide instruction to the FCC, which would result in a modification to the Lifeline programme which presently subsidises telephone services for Americans on a low-income, with help for families to buy broadband instead.

Rep. Matsui expressed in a press release how important she feels the change is. She said:

“The Lifeline program provides a tangible service to lower-income Americans and it is imperative that the Lifeline program be reformed and modernized to account for broadband services.”

Fees from the “Universal Service” that are shown on American’s telephone bills, fund the Lifeline programme. The fund, as well as subsidising service for Americans on a low-income, further helps to cover for rural area service.

The broadband transition has been talked about in Washington for some time. A report from the government recommended an extension of the Lifeline programme back to broadband, three years ago.

The FCC has been expending efforts to completely change the Universal Service system, which is regarded as being complex. Matsui says that recent changes made to the programme have resulted in a decrease in participation with a fall of five million in less than a year; 18.2 million last August dropping to 13.2 million this month.

The proposal from Matsui has seen support from Public Knowledge, which expressed its views on the importance of the bill, saying that it was required as telecom companies moved over to IP telephony services. Christopher Lewis from PK said that Americans need access to networks in order for them to respond to employment openings and contact 911 services.