WASHINGTON, September 2, 2010 - The Leadership Conference on Human and Civil Rights has offered its suggestions to the government on how to improve the access of low-income, minority and other underserved communities to important communications services like broadband.
The leadership conference is recommending that the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service:
- Move quickly to expand the Lifeline and Linkup programs to support broadband services that can support voice and other applications as was recommended in the National Broadband Plan;
- Maximize the impact of the program by expanding eligibility and improving participation rates by enhancing outreach and administration by doing things such as mandating automatic enrollment programs so individuals who apply for benefits for one agency can automatically be enrolled for benefits through Lifeline and Linkup. It also suggests that group homes such as domestic violence and homeless shelters be allowed to use the Lifeline and Linkup programs;
- Allow low-income consumers flexibility to meet their needs while ensuring companies don’t receive compensation for poor services. For example, the government could look at ways that universal service funds might help support digital literacy. Additionally, it should review concerns that some states require individuals to apply for unemployment benefits online but those consumers might not have access to the internet to do so; and
- Develop electronic management tools to reach low-income populations online.