The (Toledo) Blade, April 11
In a 3-2 vote last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted to allow an estimated 40 million Americans on food stamps, Medicaid, and other federal assistance to register for subsidies to put toward Internet service. For the first time, low-income Americans can qualify for a credit worth $9.25 a month. That money can be applied to broadband service as part of a voice bundle on cellular, fixed networks, or a standalone phone with no voice plan.
This is good news for the estimated 13 million people eligible for Lifeline who currently have no Internet service. With more educational courses and jobs requiring applicants to apply online, poor people are at an added disadvantage if they don’t have access to the Internet. As much as it may seem to some to be a useless extravagance, Internet service today is a basic utility- as necessary as water and electricity. This is a historic expansion of benefits that is long overdue.
Even so, the vote wasn’t unanimous. Two Republican commissioners wanted a plan that would have required low-income Americans on Lifeline to pay more out of pocket. They also wanted Internet providers to implement a faster speed standard, which would have driven up the cost of doing business…