Lifeline Assistance Program needs broadband in reform, legislators say

Two U.S. senators and a congresswoman have thrown their support behind the Broadband Adoption Act of 2015, citing the need for the Lifeline Assistance Program (which currently provides low-income individuals access to mobile and landline services) to include subsidies for broadband Internet services.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker and California Congresswoman Doris Matsui introduced legislation to reform the Universal Service Fund (USF). The legislation bolsters previous legislation co-sponsored by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, Massachusetts Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal instructing the FCC to establish a Lifeline Assistance Program option to make in-home online service more affordable.

The FCC wants to reform the program from voice services to broadband for eligible families.

"Whether you're looking to find a job, enroll in health insurance, shop online or communicate with your child's teacher, Internet access today is absolutely essential to economic and social well-being," Murphy said in the press release. "But the facts state clearly that low-income Americans disproportionately lack access to broadband service and the opportunities that come with it."

The notion drew the support--via the Internet--of AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

"Increasingly, in today's society, having a voice line is not enough. Internet service has quickly become the more needed Lifeline technology for the 21st Century," Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior EVP-external and legislative affairs, wrote in a blog post.

Verizon, meanwhile, issued a statement supporting the Murphy, Booker and Matsui bill as "an important contribution" in updating the Lifeline program.

For more:
- U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy issued this press release
- Broadband & Cable had this story
- AT&T had this blog item
- and Verizon issued this statement

Related articles:
FCC Chairman Wheeler unveils $1.7B plan to extend broadband to the poor
AT&T: FCC's CAF-II should just support broadband services
Local Choice pulled from Senate bill

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