Rockefeller Introduces USF Bill On Broadband For Low-Income Households

Would create a a two-year "pilot program" covering broadband for low-income families, phone service
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Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has introduced a bill that would extend the FCC's Universal Service Fund to support broadband for low-income households.

The FCC has been collecting comments on ways to reform the fund, including extending it to broadband. The fund, which subsidizes service to communities where it would be cost-prohitibive or profit-prohibitive for the commercial sector to wire, currently primarily only covers phone service.

The Rockefeller bill would create a two-year "pilot program" to expand the USF to cover "the recurring cost of basic broadband service for eligible low-income households" in addition to phone service.

It also asks the FCC to report to Congress on how it might extend broadband assistance to helping with the cost of computer equipment, just as it now does now with the start-up costs of phone service.

Also backing the bill is Senate Commerce Ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.).

Rockefeller's bill is similar to one introduced by Rep. Doris Matsiu (D-Calif. last fall, HR 3646.) Her bill also asks the FCC to help low-income families in rural and uran areas get affordable broadband service by providing a subsidizing a discount on their broadband service.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has proposed a government-industry partnership to provide half-off broadband service to low income households with middle school children as a way to help schoolkids and close the broadband adoption gap.

Also backing the bill is Senate Commerce Ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.).

Rockefeller's bill is similar to one introduced by Rep. Doris Matsiu (D-Calif. last fall, HR 3646. Her bill also asks the FCC to help low-income families in rural and uran areas get affordable broadband service by providing a subsidizing a discount on their broadband service.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has proposed a government-industry partnership to provide half-off broadband service to low income households with middle school children as a way to help schoolkids and close the broadband adoption gap.

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