Historic Vote Will Connect More Low-Income Families to Internet

Now low-income students and families across the country will now have greater opportunities to benefit from broadband access at school and at home! Earlier this month, the Alliance for Excellent Education filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that included hundreds of names from educators and education leaders like you. The petition urged the FCC to vote “yes” on modernizing the Lifeline program. As of yesterday, the Alliance is please to share that the modernization was approved.

The vote represents a major win for advocates of digital equity. While numerous changes were approved that will streamline and improve the Lifeline program, it will specifically help low-income students and families by:

  • Increasing Access to Broadband
    Eligible low-income families will now be able to apply for a discount on broadband service. Whereas the Lifeline program was originally designed to help these families afford basic phone service, this modernization recognizes that internet service has become the new pre-requisite for both students and families to thrive in a modern society.
  • Expanding Choice and Competition
    The new Lifeline program will establish minimum broadband service standards that are consistent with the FCC’s definition of high-speed internet. In many rural communities, cost is not the only barrier to reliable broadband access. Slow connection speeds and limited options for broadband providers are also a concern. The FCC’s new plan is intended to improve the quality of service and encourage more providers to serve low-income and rural areas

The new changes to Lifeline will be phased in over the next few years. As the FCC implements the new regulation, the Alliance will share additional information and resources on how to help students and families take advantage of this important opportunity.

For the FCC’s official statement on all of the changes to Lifeline, download the FCC’s press release: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0331/DOC-338676A1.pdf

Video: FCC Votes to Approve Lifeline Modernization

This video from the Alliance’s Federal Flash video series summarizes the recent changes to Lifeline that were approved by the FCC during Thursday’s vote. Watch on the website.

“Federal Flash” is the Alliance’s five-minute (or less!) video series on important developments in federal education policy.

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