Friday, June 11, 2010

FCC Begins Exloring Lifeline for Broadband

On June 8th, the FCC announced that its Wireline Competition Bureau will be hosting a roundtable discussion to enable interested parties to discuss the design of pilot programs that would provide subsidies for broadband access to low income consumers, a program similar to the Lifeline discount program for telephone users . The pilot concept comes from the recent FCC actions in proposing a National Broadband Plan and affordability is a key component to achieve universal broadband access.

In order to develop a pilot, the FCC is looking for input on several topics, including: (1) Pilot program goals and potential obstacles to achieving those goals; (2) Criteria for, and selection of, carriers to participate in pilot programs; (3) Criteria for, and selection of, consumers to participate in pilot programs; (4) Scope and duration of pilot programs; and (5) Metrics to measure accomplishment of goals.

PULP has been invited to participate in the roundtable discussion and is working on specific talking points, some which will be based on last year's application for a federal broadband grant to help make broadband more affordable,which has not been funded. Unless people can afford monthly charges for the service, it won't matter how much money is spent to bring broadband "access" to the doorstep.

Lou Manuta

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