The American Library Association (ALA) today filed comments (pdf) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the Lifeline and Link Up programs. These programs provide discounts on basic monthly service and initial installation or activation fees for telephone service at the primary residence to income-eligible consumers, according to the FCC website.
The ALA’s comments encourage the inclusion and participation of libraries and library researchers as partners in any pilot program developed to evaluate whether and how Lifeline/Link Up can effectively support broadband adoption by low-income households.
Public libraries are trusted community institutions already engaged in significant projects to promote adoption — including public access to computers and connectivity, technology training and outreach to people of all incomes, regions, ages and backgrounds. As such, they would be experienced and thoughtful contributors to any effort to better understand the barriers to adoption and identify success factors for connecting those in greatest danger of missed digital opportunity.
However, it may be advisable for the Commission to examine findings from the Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) and Public Computer Center (PCC) projects funded under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) before deciding whether to begin a new round of pilot projects.