Civil and Human Rights Coalition Praises FCC’s Genachowski and Clyburn for Refusing to Hobble the Lifeline Program

[Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, January 31, 2012]

Move Opens the Door to Future Program Modernization to Internet Access
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) announcement on the Lifeline program, which provides access to landline phone service for low-income households. The announcement now opens the door for a future modernization of the program to help bridge the digital divide by updating it for broadband, as The Leadership Conference has called for in 2010, 2011, and 2012:
“Stubborn disparities in internet access and economic opportunity can only be narrowed meaningfully by the FCC – and its announcement today shows that it sees and acknowledges this. The commissioners, Chairman Genachowski and Commissioner Clyburn in particular, recognize that Lifeline must be kept intact so that it can one day be modernized to include access to Internet services and to narrow the digital divide. For that, we praise them. 
"High-speed Internet is an essential service for Americans seeking to move out of poverty and thrive in the modern economy. Had the FCC capped the number of recipients or imposed an arbitrary budget before even piloting a modernization of the program, it would have hamstrung the initiative before it got started.
"While the Chairman deserves praise for keeping this possibility open, his plan is still years away from having any notable impact on anyone. The pilot programs the Chairman intends to launch later this year won’t help the millions of Americans struggling right now to get a leg up in today’s economy. We strongly urge the commission to take further steps by implementing these projects as quickly as possible and getting them up and running in 2012.”