As the American Library Association wrote in comments last year to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), library professionals witness daily the power of technology, as well as the detrimental impact on individuals and their communities when access is unavailable, inadequate or unaffordable. We know it is unacceptable that more than half of U.S. households with incomes below $25,000 today lack home broadband service.
In March, the FCC took action to address the affordability gap for many Americans by enacting changes in the Lifeline program to include broadband internet access as an eligible service. Initiated in 1985, the Lifeline program provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers. Starting December 2, the $9.25 discount may be applied to broadband for qualified consumers.
As trusted community institutions deeply engaged with digital inclusion efforts, libraries are well-positioned to help people take advantage of this new discount. You are invited to learn more about the Lifeline program by joining an informational webinar on Thursday, November 17, from 3-4 p.m. EST.
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which administers Lifeline (and other universal service programs like E-rate), will provide an overview of the program, the eligibility and enrollment process, and how libraries and other digital inclusion advocates can help connect eligible consumers to the program. USAC representatives will answer questions during the webinar and use the questions to continue refining FAQs. You can also email questions in advance to LifelineSupport@usac.org.
Additional background information on the program and how it works can be found here and here. ALA and PLA will continue to track and share information on the program and consumer resources as it becomes available.