Press Releases

Over 15,000 Call on FCC to Narrow the Digital Divide

Demand Progress Members Urge Commission to Expand Lifeline Program to Broadband

Contact: Mark Stanley, 202.681.7582
Email: [email protected]

In the past week, over 15,000 members of the progressive digital organizing group Demand Progress have taken action, signing a petition and calling for the FCC to narrow the digital divide by modernizing the Lifeline program to cover broadband Internet access.

On Thursday, March 31, FCC commissioners will vote on whether to modernize Lifeline—a program originally created in the ‘80s to help low-income families afford basic phone service—by expanding it to broadband Internet.

The text of the petition reads:

“It’s astonishing that nearly one in five Americans lacks a basic broadband Internet connection, with cost usually serving as the limiting factor.

“A reliable broadband Internet connection is not a luxury in 2016: Everything from searching for a job, to accessing health care, to allowing school children to complete their homework assignments, to engaging in politics relies on the Internet.

“FCC commissioners should take the opportunity to help narrow the digital divide, by voting to expand the Lifeline program to cover broadband Internet.”

The following can be attributed to Demand Progress’s Mark Stanley:

“Modernizing Lifeline to include broadband is a necessary step to bridge our country’s crippling digital divide.

“As an online advocacy organization, many of Demand Progress’s two million members have reliable Internet connections and know firsthand how important access is when it comes to civic engagement.

“But for the millions of Americans who do not have a broadband connection, they are not only cut off from crucial venues for political engagement — they are blocked from essential health services, job opportunities, and are even prevented from doing schoolwork. The vastness of the digital divide and its very real harms—especially for those historically most disadvantaged—are simply unacceptable in 2016.

“The thousands of activists that signed this petition know that when this level of inequality is allowed to persist, it is a direct threat to our country’s democracy and our economy. That’s why over 15,000 have spoken out this week alone, urging FCC commissioners to vote to expand broadband affordability in order to open up greater opportunities for more families and students.”