Yesterday, Public Knowledge filed comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s Public Notice to consider how to operate the new “Emergency Broadband Benefit Program” established this month to provide broadband subsidies for those financially impacted by COVID-19.
The program follows several months of advocacy from Public Knowledge, including a letter from 218 public interest and industry groups urging Congress to include affordable broadband in future coronavirus stimulus packages. Public Knowledge urges the agency to seize this opportunity and maximize the consumer benefits in the program to provide broadband access for these vulnerable consumers during a time when no American can afford to be left without a broadband connection.
The following can be attributed to Kathleen Burke, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed significant burdens on families and individuals for nearly a year. As a society, we’ve had to adapt and find new ways to work, attend school, and connect with our families — often relying on the internet to do so. Unfortunately, those who cannot afford broadband have had to cope with the traumas of the ongoing pandemic without any of the relief offered by internet-based services.
“The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will help those in need get connected. We urge the Commission to adopt policies that make it easier for consumers already battling the economic effects of the pandemic to participate in this vital program. This includes making sure eligible Americans both know about the benefit and how to apply for it, as well as ensuring that device subsidies are provided for devices capable of accessing essential broadband services like video calling. Only by prioritizing consumer needs can the FCC help alleviate the injustice of Americans being disconnected during a national crisis.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.