Bennet Urges FCC Not To Undermine Lifeline Broadband Program

In letter to FCC Chairman, calls for 2016 reforms to stay intact to help close digital divide for low-income Americans

DENVER – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet this week sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai urging him to leave intact 2016 reforms that modernized the Lifeline program by increasing access to broadband subsidies for low-income Americans.

“Proposed changes to this program that restrict access to the subsidies or increase bureaucratic hurdles will deny the opportunities provided by the Internet to millions of Americans,” Bennet wrote. “These changes would put low-income families, workers, and children, particularly those who live in rural areas, at a significant disadvantage relative to their higher-income peers.”

The 2016 reforms were projected to help 12 million households pay their monthly broadband bill, with a goal of increasing access to high-speed Internet for an additional 20 million Americans by 2020.

In the letter, Bennet highlighted a Pew Research analysis that found less than half of American adults with household incomes under $30,000 have a home broadband connection, and approximately five million school-age children do not have a home broadband connection.

“High-speed, reliable, affordable broadband is essential for families to participate in a 21st Century economy and for all of our communities to thrive,” Bennet wrote. “I encourage you to reconsider any attempts to limit the Lifeline program’s scope or effectiveness.”

This is the latest of Bennet’s letters to the Federal Communications Commission regarding increasing access to broadband. Last month, Bennet launched the Connect Colorado initiative to help connect every community in Colorado to high-speed, affordable, reliable broadband by providing support for those competing for funding. Bennet is also a cosponsor of legislation to expand broadband access in rural areas.

A copy of the letter is available HERE.