Originally published: July 26, 2012
Last updated: May 5, 2013 - 9:40pm
While physical access to broadband connections remains a major concern for adoption, a Broadband Breakfast Club panel focused most of its attention on the other prongs of adoption which involve cost education and relevance. Efforts to subsidize cost of service cost of hardware along with digital literacy efforts were the primary concern of the panelists. Amina Fazullah, Policy Counsel of The Benton Foundation, Cheryl Leanza, President of A Learned Hand, Sonja Murray, Executive VP and Chief Program Officer at Connect2Compete, Bret Perkins, Vice President of External and Government Affairs at Comcast, Rick Schadelbauer, Economist at the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) and Jason Whittet, Deputy Director of the Massachusetts broadband Institute made up the panel of experts for the discussion.
Fazullah began the discussion with an update of some of the most recent changes made to the Lifeline program at the FCC, including a number of proposed cost saving measures, updates to the eligibility and verification processes and changes to the way low income consumers can participate. She specifically cited the clarification of the one subsidy per household with the same address issue which had previously prevented those living in group homes, homeless shelters and senior facilities from participating in the program. The FCC has launched their Lifeline and Link Up Pilot projects for broadband which propose to change the program from a voice subsidy to a broadband subsidy. Fazullah said that all the applications for the Pilot Project were received by the Commission as of last Monday and over half the country is represented in the applications. She references a mix of rural and urban applications that all seem to have a combination of support for providing broadband service, as well as partnering with community organizations to provide equipment and digital literacy training.
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