Rural Broadband Policy Group Applauds FCC Proposal to Include Broadband in the Lifeline Program

Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his proposal to “reboot” Lifeline, the benefit program that helps low-income Americans afford wireline and wireless telephone service. The Chairman proposes to add broadband to the communications services offered via the successful program created during the Reagan administration. In a blog post announcing his proposal, Wheeler states “Our nation’s enduring promise is opportunity for all, and helping financially struggling Americans access basic communications empowers individuals to pursue new opportunities and build better lives.”

The Rural Broadband Policy Group applauds this announcement as another example of the Commission’s continued efforts to ensure all Americans can access the tools that allow them to participate fully in our society. RBPG commends Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s leadership in improving this valuable program.

According to Edyael Casaperalta, Coordinator of the Rural Broadband Policy Group:

 “The internet is an invaluable tool for everyone, but for people in rural America, it can be a lifeline to education, employment, information, improving our communities, and sharing our stories. We commend the achievements of the Lifeline program in bringing wired and wireless telephone service to low-income rural Americans, and we strongly support a Lifeline program that also offers internet service.

The internet is a powerful tool to lift people out of poverty and transform communities, but 22 million Americans living in rural areas cannot access this service and one of their biggest barriers is cost. We believe Lifeline would go a long way to help rural low-income Americans access vital internet service and create a nation where all can participate in our culture, economy, and democracy regardless of where they live or what they can afford.”

In early March, 21 young advocates from the YouthBuild Rural Caucus participated in a discussion with the Rural Broadband Policy Group about how to improve the Lifeline program. Their conversation centered on developing a vision of wellness and opportunity for their rural communities. Please see the Lifeline Internet principles and recommendations they developed here. Sharell Harmon, a participant from Elkins, West Virginia, was featured in a New York Times article about her experiences as a Lifeline telephone recipient and her support for including broadband in the program.

A related press release is available here for immediate distribution.

In addition, a New York Times story talking about this plan and its benefits to people like Sharell Harmon is available here.

Technology transitions - tell the FCC to protect rural communities - deadline Feb. 5

Yesterday's webinar from the Rural Broadband Policy Group gave information about why the technology transitions being considered for our telephone infrastructure are important for rural communities and how important it is for us to get involved and express our needs.

[slides from this webinar]

Whether you are a consumer that has been impacted by technology changes to the telephone network or an organization who cares about this issue, the RBPG highly encourages you to submit comments expressing your opinion on this matter to the Federal Communications Commission.

Deadline to submit comments is February 5!

Below you can find sample letters that you can personalize and file:

1. Go to http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/display

2. You will see the following screen:

3. Input the following “Proceeding Numbers” (clicking “Add Another Proceeding” for each new entry: 13-5; 14-174; RM-11358; 05-25; RM-10593; 10-90; 12-353

4. Add your name or your organization’s name for “Name of Filer.” Leave “Lawfirm Name” blank. Add your name and email address for “Author Name.”

5. Do not check “Exparte Presentation.” Indicate “COMMENT” on “Type of Filing.” Leave “File Number,” “Report Number,” and “Bureau Identification Number” blank

6. Fill out the address information for the person or entity listed on “Name of Filer.”

7. Separately, draft and save your personalized letter as a PDF. Attach your letter using the “Browse” button. Click “Continue” and follow the prompts in the next page to finalize your filing.

8. Smile, you just did good for Rural communities! :)

(Printable version of the above instructions)

For more information on how to file, please contact Edyael Casaperalta, RBPG Coordinator at edyael@publicknowledge.org

Here are more resources to learn about how technology transitions impact rural consumers and communities:

 

Webinar: Help us tell the FCC to protect rural consumers - Jan. 28

Telephone service is changing.

Help us tell the FCC to protect rural consumers.


Join our webinar to learn more about these changes and how to respond.

"It's time to comment: Tell the FCC to protect rural consumers."
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
4pm-5pm Eastern

Register here.

Description:

Some companies want to change the technology they use to bring telephone service to your home.

A switch in technology could bring unwanted changes to the service available in rural communities.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently accepting comments about this issue, and it is important that rural voices are heard.

Comments are due February 5th.  

Join Edyael Casaperalta, coordinator of the National Rural Assembly's Rural Broadband Policy Group, and Jodie Griffin, Senior Staff Attorney and expert on tech transitions at Public Knowledge, to learn more about how these changes impact your home phone service and how you can tell the FCC to protect rural consumers.

REGISTER NOW

Another way to comment: Fill out this *BRIEF SURVEY*
We'd like to know how your telephone service experience has or has not changed over the last few years.  Please fill out this brief survey in English or in Spanish.  We'll make sure your responses are presented to the FCC. 

Trouble with your landline?


The telephone network is changing.
Tell us how it has affected you.

Click here to take our brief survey.

Some companies want to change the technology they use to bring telephone service to your home.

A switch in technology could bring unwanted changes to the service available in rural communities.

The National Rural Assembly's Rural Broadband Policy Group wants to know if you have experienced any changes in your home telephone service.

TAKE OUR SHORT SURVEY

Your answers will help us advocate for affordable, reliable, quality telephone service across the country. Please take 5 minutes to answer our brief survey.

And share with your family and friends!

Thank you!

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Don't forget!
SAVE THE DATE: 2015 National Rural Assembly
September 8-10, 2015
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
Reserve your room now.