Protecting Lifeline and Affordable Broadband Options for All New Yorkers

As part of keeping New York City a growing, thriving City, Mayor Bill de Blasio set a goal for all New Yorkers to have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband service everywhere by 2025. We call this universal broadband.

The Federal program, Lifeline, was first introduced in 1985 to provide low-income Americans affordable telephone service options. The program lowers the cost of phone service through a monthly subsidy. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under President Obama, had modernized the program to address broadband affordability and to promote competition in low-income and rural communities.

At that time, I served on the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee (IAC) for my then-boss, San Francisco’s late Mayor Ed Lee. In that time, the IAC (including New York City staff representing Mayor de Blasio) continued discussing the importance of the Lifeline program and shared ideas for modernizing it even further to catch up with the changing needs of so many Americans. The program has served nearly 13 million people, including New Yorkers, and everyone in IAC knew how important it was, and still is.

Despite these past efforts to modernize the Lifeline program, the current FCC seeks to limit the types of internet service providers and customers who would qualify for the program, which would significantly and negatively impact low-income Americans who need affordable broadband options.

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70% of Americans think a lack of broadband is a disadvantage to learning new things that may improve or enrich their lives

Since coming to work for Mayor de Blasio, and all New Yorkers, I have observed an erosion of protection for working-class people at the FCC. However, each time the FCC has stepped away from America’s interests, the City of New York has stepped up. I’m proud to be part of that.

On February 21st, the City of New York filed comments with the FCC opposing the misguided changes to the Lifeline program. The current FCC has proposed to reverse many of the elements of the new program the City had supported.

Read our comment to the FCC here

The public can submit reply comments directly with the FCC in the Lifeline proceedings — WC Docket №17–287, WC Docket №11–42, and WC Docket №09–197 — here: Reply comments are due by March 23, 2018

Just last week, on February 28th, I testified before the City Council Committee on Technology on how the federal overhaul of the FCC Lifeline program will effect low-income New Yorkers. I recommend that you read it to learn more about how such a critical program greatly affects how low-income New Yorkers afford to access the internet. And, it’s not just New Yorkers. Many millions across the country will be impacted.

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