It costs more to be poor these days. Even minimum wage jobs, such as those at Wal-Mart and Target, now require online applications. That's why the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau is funding 14 pilot projects to expand broadband adoption through its Lifeline program. According to the FCC, "Located in 21 states and Puerto Rico, the pilots will also provide broadband for nearly 75,000 low-income consumers who now lack service." The program will run for 18 months, beginning on Feb. 1, 2013.
The FCC deems the project essential because of the drastically lower broadband adoption rate among low-income households. "Fewer than 36 percent of families with incomes less than $25,000 subscribe to broadband at home, compared to nearly 92 percent of families with incomes over $75,000," said the FCC.
The pilots will test how best to use the Lifeline program to expand broadband. There will be five wireless, seven wireline and two offering both over a variety of geographic areas. "Seven will test discounted service in rural areas, including two on Tribal lands, and seven will test discounted service in urban and suburban areas."
The 14 chosen pilots include the Ohio and West Virginia locations of Frontier Communications Corporation, a CWA-represented company. Others range from Vermont to the tribal areas of Arizona, from New York State to Puerto Rico.
The program is being funded by $14 million gained from savings in Lifeline reforms.
FCC announces 14 pilot projects to increase broadband adoption (FCC news release, Dec. 19, 2012)