National Consumers League

Bringing broadband to low-income households

The National Consumers League has submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission urging the FCC to adopt a plan that encourages robust competition among current and future broadband delivery platforms, keeps retail prices affordable for moderate-to-low income consumers, creates sustainable jobs, and encourages innovative solutions to bridge the Digital Divide and connect all Americans to the benefits of broadband.

In the letter to the FCC, Breyault pointed out that, while the Universal Service Fund is vital to ensuring that telecommunications service is available to all, the fund has not historically been utilized to provide broadband services. In today’s society, he argued, broadband access is essential, helping improve consumers’ lives in a number of ways – communicating with friends and family, working or telecommuting, getting healthcare and improving their education. All of these benefits should be available to all consumers; unfortunately, often because of cost, they are not.

A recent study published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that only 25 percent of households with annual incomes below $20,000 have broadband service, as compared with 55 percent of all households. Breyault recommend that, should a pilot USF for broadband program move forward, there be a strong consumer education component included in the plan.

Read NCL’s letter to FCC here.