Broadband networks are critical to our daily lives. They allow us to work from home, connect with loved ones, find jobs, educate our children remotely, and get medical attention virtually.
Yet too many households across the country can’t access broadband because it’s not available where they live. Some lack the digital literacy skills to properly use it. Others simply can’t afford it.
It’s time for a bold, new national strategy to close America's digital divide.
Verizon is committed to ensuring all Americans have access to affordable broadband and are equipped with the skills to use it. We work with other companies and nonprofit partners to support digital inclusion in a variety of ways, including, equipping under-resourced schools with STEM education tools and free internet access, partnering with school districts across the country during the pandemic to provide discount broadband service to support distance learning and hosting digital literacy training for communities in need. In addition, we offer a discount on Verizon's Fios home broadband service for customers qualifying for the FCC’s Lifeline program that allows those customers to purchase a 200/200 Mbps fiber service with no data caps for just $19.99/month.
But solving our nation’s broadband challenge will also require a strong commitment from the government. Congress has taken some important steps by passing the Emergency Broadband Benefit as part of its recent COVID Relief Package.
While encouraging, that’s a temporary program that will expire after the end of the public health emergency. Other government programs have delivered tremendous benefits, but these programs on their own do not do enough to close the broadband gap.
We believe it’s time for Congress to take bolder steps to Accelerate America by providing long-term funding for broadband connectivity in a way that gives Americans more choices and more resources.
We're proposing a new public policy approach that asks Congress to provide long-term financial support for broadband services in three areas: affordability, adoption, and access. This comprehensive approach, which builds on prior efforts to close the digital divide and supplements existing programs, will help empower all Americans to thrive in the digital age.
Here’s whatwe propose
- Congress should allocate funds for a new broadband program that supplements the existing Lifeline program. Eligible recipients would choose which program best fits their needs.
- Eligible recipients would receive a monthly benefit of $20-$50 dollars that is distributed onto electronic benefit transfer cards similar to (or the same as) what they may already have for other government assistance programs. Recipients in the program could use their card to pay for eligible services just like any customer uses a debit or credit card.
- Recipients could use the benefit to pay for any qualifying wireline, wireless service, or both. Participants would also be eligible for a bi-annual equipment benefit.
- The federal government would provide support to fund digital literacy programs, remote classroom learning, connectivity and associated technology.
- The federal government would provide support to state and local governments to modernize their systems to enable citizens to access information and resources online and via mobile devices.
- The federal government would also continue to provide support for broadband in rural and hard to reach areas.
Let's work together to Accelerate America and close the broadband gap.