U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY-18) today introduced a bicameral bill that would increase access to broadband service for low-income urban and rural Americans. The Promoting Access to Broadband Act would help states increase awareness and enrollment in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline Program. The Lifeline Program helps low-income households pay for their telephone and broadband service charges by providing a monthly subsidy of $9.25, yet enrollment numbers in the program remain extremely low nationwide.
Here are the details…
- Award grants to at least five states;
- Direct the FCC to consider several factors in evaluating the applications, including: states that have a higher number of covered individuals, states with plans with the potential to reach a higher percentage of eligible-but-not-enrolled households, and the geographic diversity of the applicants;
- Allow states to use the funds for a variety of Lifeline enrollment efforts, including:
- Informing Medicaid enrollees, SNAP participants, and low-income individuals of their potential eligibility in the Lifeline program,
- Providing these individuals with information about how to apply for the Lifeline program,
- Partnering with non-profit and community-based organizations to provide individuals with assistance applying for Lifeline and information about product and technology choices; and
- Require the FCC to issue a report to Congress within a year of establishing the grant program evaluating the program’s effectiveness.