Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman on Monday announced a proposal to use $ 3.2 billion in emergency funds to significantly subsidize broadband service to millions of homes, an effort to collect The narrowing the digital gap has punished low-income families during the pandemic.
The President, Jessica Rosenworcel, announced that under her recommendation eligible households will receive a discount of $ 50 a month for high speed internet service. The discount will be $ 75 for households on tribal land. Ms. Rosenworcel has submitted a proposal to three other commissioners to vote, but has not made it clear when that vote will take place for a program known as Emergency Broadband Rights.
Congress allocated this money last December as part of the Covid-19 bailout bill. This amount will be made available to households at or 135 percent above the poverty line, who are eligible for free and reduced-price school lunches, or have lost significant income since the February 29, 2020.
At least 14.5 million homes do not have access to high-speed internet. For many families, especially in urban and suburban areas, the high cost of broadband has prevented them from purchasing the service. The consequences of the digital divide during a pandemic are serious. Children cannot study online and adults cannot work from home or look for important health information.
“Nobody has to choose between paying their internet bill or paying to order food on the table,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “With the help of Emergency Broadband Benefit, we have a new way for households to access virtual learning, for patients to connect with remote healthcare providers and People who are struggling in this epidemic to learn new online skills and find their next job.
The digital gap is one of the most difficult problems facing the federal government.
Although federal subsidies of more than $ 8 billion are allocated each year to internet service providers to bring broadband to every home in the US, adoption and access rates have improved. at breakneck speed. For example, popular broadband maps exceed the number of households with access to the service. If an internet service provider like Verizon or Comcast can only reach one house in the census block, then the entire block will be connected on a federal map – even if practically all homes Neither home is offered the broadband option.
Last week, Ms. Rosenworcel announced a task force researching the agency’s broadband access data.