Today, in response to the FCC's Order to modernize the Lifeline program by implementing a universal broadband adoption pilot program, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), a Member of the Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee released the following statement:
"I applaud the FCC for moving forward to bring the Universal Service Fund (USF) Lifeline Assistance program into the 21st century by implementing a broadband adoption pilot project. This is an initiative I have been advocating for since I first introduced legislation in 2009 to expand the Lifeline program for universal broadband adoption, and I am very pleased that the FCC is making this a reality.
"In today's digital economy, the Internet has become a necessity, not a luxury. If you don't have access to broadband, you are simply at a competitive disadvantage. Unfortunately, millions of Americans, particularly in these tough economic times, simply cannot afford the high-cost of in-home broadband service and are on the wrong side of the digital divide.
"Expansion of the Lifeline program to broadband will enable low-income households to have access to affordable broadband services and connect with the increasingly digital American economy. We must close the digital divide in this country and the FCC moving forward today to establishing a broadband adoption pilot program through the USF will move us closer to that goal. It is my hope that these pilot projects will garner the proper data and information to develop a responsible, permanent broadband adoption program.
"As this Order takes effect, I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Genachowski and the FCC on modernizing the USF program to the benefit of all Americans."
Congresswoman Matsui is a member of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Her legislation, H.R. 2163, the Broadband Affordability Act of 2011, would follow the Lifeline program model in order to provide affordable in-home Internet to low-income Americans. It is the basis for the FCC's pilot program announced today.