By Samantha Bookman | October 30, 2015
The move to extend low-cost broadband services to Lifeline recipients continues to draw controversy, with a lawsuit over net neutrality rules delaying the FCC from making a decision on whether to require Universal Service Fund fees of Internet service providers. Proponents of a proposed low-cost broadband option, meanwhile, are continuing to try and convince the commission to move ahead on the issue.
Currently, telecom carriers are required to pay into the USF -- fees that are typically tacked onto consumers' telephone bills to cover the cost. The USF provides basic voice service to consumers with limited income through the federal Lifeline program. With the FCC's net neutrality rules classifying broadband providers as telecommunications services, it's likely that ISPs will need to pay USF fees as well.
However, the FCC has so far delayed making a decision as to whether ISPs will need to pay USF fees as it looks for "more certainty" in its net neutrality decision, according to Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, speaking to the Senate Commerce Committee this week.
Sonora, CA – Starting early next year, Tuolumne County residents may tap free computer training, courtesy of a multi-agency partnership, further fueled by $40,000 in local and state funds.
Three-quarters of the grant monies have been provided by the Sonora Area Foundation (SAF) and the remaining $10,000 comes through the California Emerging Technology Fund.
Especially geared for those interested in learning with little or no experience, the training will provide computer learning basics for a variety of electronic devices from computers to smart phones; securely navigating the Internet; maintaining online privacy; executing job searches and online education programs; working with photos, social media, and more.
San Jose Mercury News
by George Avalos | June 16, 2015
The digital divide between broadband haves and have-nots has narrowed but still remains an electronic chasm, according to a report released Tuesday by the California Emerging Technology Fund and The Field Poll.
About 79 percent of households in California have broadband connections at home, while 21 percent do not have access, according to the latest Field Poll. The Field organization surveyed 1,664 California households to measure at-home penetration of broadband services, in a study undertaken for the nonprofit California Technology Fund.
"We clearly still have a digital divide," said Sunne McPeak, president and chief executive of the California Emerging Technology Fund.Read more
The Washington Post
By Brian Fung | May 28, 2015
Federal regulators hope to bridge a yawning gap in Internet adoption by expanding a subsidy program for poor Americans that for years has helped millions connect to basic telephone service.
Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will circulate a proposal to his colleagues Thursday that would radically update the 30-year-old aid program, known as Lifeline, according to FCC officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plan is not yet public.
For the first time, the proposal would allow program participants to apply their discounts to standalone high-speed Internet service. Although Lifeline supports broadband when it comes bundled with phone service, it currently does not allow the poor to use the $9.25-a-month subsidy to pay for independent Internet plans.Read more
F.C.C. Chief Seeks Broadband Plan to Aid the Poor
By Rebecca R. Ruiz
May 28, 2015
For 30 years, the federal government has helped millions of low-income Americans pay their phone bills, saying that telephone service is critical to summoning medical help, seeking work and, ultimately, climbing out of poverty. Now, the nation’s top communications regulator will propose offering those same people subsidized access to broadband Internet.
On Thursday, that regulator, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will circulate a plan to his fellow commissioners suggesting sweeping changes to a $1.7 billion subsidy program charged with ensuring that all Americans have affordable access to advanced telecommunications services, according to senior agency officials.
The effort is the F.C.C.’s strongest recognition yet that high-speed Internet access is as essential to economic well-being as good transportation and telephone service. Mr. Wheeler will propose potentially giving recipients a choice of phone service, Internet service or a mix of both, the officials said. He will also suggest new measures to curb fraud, a source of criticism in recent years.Read more
Lifeline Subsidy Program Would Cover Broadband Under FCC Chief's Plan
By Jim Puzzanghera
May 28, 2015
A federal program that subsidizes phone service for low-income consumers would be overhauled to help expand access to high-speed Internet under a proposal Thursday by the head of the Federal Communications Commission.
Households would have the choice of using the monthly $9.25 Lifeline subsidy to pay for a broadband connection or a phone line, according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan.
"Broadband is key to Lifeline’s future," he said in a blog post.
High-speed Internet has become an essential service available in 95% of households with annual incomes of more than $150,000, Wheeler said.Read more
Philadelphia is Near the Bottom in Proportion of Homes with Broadband Service
By Bob Fernandez
March 29, 2015
Dr. Ethel Allen Elementary School in Strawberry Mansion lets out at 2:49, and not long afterward, on most afternoons, 40 to 50 boys and girls stream through the white door of Pastor Hezekiah Lampley's North 31st Street church for free soda, bags of chips, and a quick prayer.
Some days, some of those same kids also climb the creaky stairs to the second floor of Lampley's Morning Star Church of God in Christ, where the pastor keeps six broadband-connected desktop computers.
Lampley inherited the computers as castoffs six or seven years ago, but they are still serviceable for research or writing school papers. As Kysheem, Tianna, Kasim, Gemini, and others looked through the fridge for sodas or waited to hold hands for prayer, Lampley asked them individually one day last week, "Do you have a computer at home?"Read more
L.A. Times Editorial Supports Internet For All Now Position On Comcast
Times says requiring Comcast to meet goals for discount Internet subscription is “reasonable”
Today, the Los Angeles Time published an editorial, entitled “Comcast Merger a Chance to Narrow the Digital Divide.” The Times writes that the California Emerging Technology Fund “has shown that the right combination of partners and programs can yield sign-up rates of 45% and more. It's reasonable to demand as much from Comcast and any other broadband provider that wants to expand its turf without building a network and competing.”
Comcast merger a chance to narrow the digital divide
The California Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide this month whether Comcast's proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable's operations in the state would be in the public interest. An administrative law judge has recommended that the takeover be approved but with a number of conditions that have caused Comcast to cry foul. These include requiring the merged company to sign up 45% of the low-income households in its area for Comcast's discounted broadband Internet service, or at least as high a percentage as it has signed up among all homes in its territory. Comcast argues that simply offering its discounted "Internet Essentials" in Time Warner Cable's service area will be a boon to low-income families, given that they don't have access to anything like it today. But if Comcast expects to merge its way into those communities, the public benefit should be greater than if Comcast had chosen to compete with Time Warner Cable instead of buying it.Read more
Comcast Merger Moves Forward, But Cable Giant Still Complains
By Anders Bylund
Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA ) is infamous for its callous customer service attitude, for its monopolistic business practices, and for what some might call a loose commitment to promises made in merger proceedings. For these reasons, and many others, Comcast is known as the most hated company in America.
Just when you thought the cable giant couldn't sink any lower in the eyes of American consumers, Comcast pulls another, well, Comcastic move. The company just scored a crucial regulatory approval of its proposed merger with cable rival Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC ) . Alas, the win wasn't enough to turn Comcast's frown upside down. Instead, Comcast is complaining that the approval came with too many "unrealistic" conditions.
The merger action in question is a proposed approval of Comcast's Time Warner deal from the Public Utilities Commission of California. Administrative Law Judge David Gamson granted permission to transfer business assets and licenses between Comcast, Time Warner, and Charter (NASDAQ: CHTR ) in order to close the Californian portion of the $45 billion megadeal.