Better Broadband Better Lives

Rep. Matsui Wants Low-Income Broadband Program

in Smart Grid/Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, November 14, 2009 - Congresswoman Doris Matsui touted legislation in a speech Friday that would require the Federal Communications Commission to create a program that would enable qualifying low-income customers to purchase broadband service at reduced prices.

Under the bill filed last month, H.R.3646, the government would reimburse broadband providers for each low-income customer served and ensure that the program would be neutral to different technologies.

“We need to extend the privilege of home internet access to all American families,” Matsui, a Democrat, told a crowd of students, faculty and community members at the Sacramento State Alumni Center in California. “For far too long, lower-income families have been disadvantaged in large part by the lack of access to affordable broadband services. To fully close the digital divide, it is critical that we address the affordability of these services,” she said.

Matsui said she has been “a strong advocate for broadband grants to be allocated to schools and libraries, and to ‘underserved’ communities so that more Americans have access to the internet.” According to statistics referenced by the lawmaker, only 58 percent of Californians earning under $40,000 a year subscribed to dial-up or broadband at home.

Matsui focused her remarks on her priorities of the last year including a commitment to green technology. She also discussed $127 million in stimulus funding that is being used to expand Sacramento’s regional smart grid implementation. “The updates to be completed include 600,000 smart meters, as well as 50,000 demand response controls. That includes programmable smart thermostats, home energy management systems to allow homes and businesses to monitor their usage more closely and engage in energy saving techniques,” she said. Matsui also said the grant would modernize approximately fifty buildings at Sacramento State campus.

“The grants are an integral part of a national effort led by President Obama to build a nationwide smart electricity grid that will reduce costs for consumers and businesses, make the electricity grid more efficient and reliable, and increase accessibility to clean, low-cost renewable energy sources,” she said. “In addition to creating jobs, we need to continue to bolster and strengthen our economy, and make sure all Americans have access to the clean-tech and high-tech jobs of the future,” added Matsui.

Winter covered technology policy issues for five-and-a-half years as a reporter for the National Journal Group. She has worked for USA Today, the Washington Times, the Magazine Group, the State Department’s International Visitor’s Program, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She also taught English at a university in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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