Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) has re-introduced a bill that would expand the Universal Service Fund to include broadband by discounting Internet access service to the poor..
The Broadband Affordablity Act of 2011 would provide low-income Americans living in rural and urban areas with a discount on broadband internet service. The program would be made part of the USF's Lifeline Assistance program, which does the same for rural and low-income phone customers.
Matsui first introduced the bill in fall 2009. The FCC also recommended the move as part of its National Broadband Plan.
As part of that plan, the FCC wants to migrate the Universal Service Fund, of which Lifeline Assistance is a part, from phone to broadband service.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association praised the Matsui bill. "We applaud Rep. Matsui for re-introducing the 'Broadband Affordability Act' which recognizes the value of reforming our existing universal service system by focusing greater attention on competitively neutral strategies to promote broadband adoption," said NCTA President Michael Powell in a statement. "We support Rep. Matsui's efforts and look forward to working with her and other members on new ideas that will improve digital literacy and help low-income households realize the benefits of broadband."