On April 20, 2020, Next Century Cities (NCC) filed comments on behalf of our members and the American Library Association (ALA) explaining why the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) reclassification of broadband services under Title I could impact the stability of Lifeline. The filing also describes why Lifeline, a program designed to be an aid in times of need and disaster relief, is a tool for local officials who are working to ensure that low-income residents can get online. Low-income households rely heavily on local libraries as a primary resource for broadband. The coronavirus pandemic has forced schools and libraries to shut their doors, making those connectivity needs even more urgent.

The FCC must ensure that it has the requisite legal authority to administer the Lifeline program. The agency is also uniquely positioned to educate the public on both the importance and availability of its broadband services. Our filing includes statements from local officials in New York and Michigan, two states hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and also among the states with the largest Lifeline eligible populations.

Mayor Lovely Warren shared how Lifeline could help connect low-income residents in the City of Rochester:

“Preserving and expanding access to phone and broadband services for low-income residents is more critical than ever. As we deal with the COVID-19 crisis, our economy and government services are becoming almost exclusively digital. We must ensure that everyone in our society can participate and have the opportunity to better their lives. Our public policy must meet this challenge.”

Digital Inclusion Officer Joshua Edmonds has been working with community members in the City of Detroit:

“Connecting low-income residents to the internet has been a longstanding priority for the City of Detroit, prior to Covid-19. During this pandemic, we have placed a greater emphasis and exhausted resources in order to connect some of our most vulnerable residents to quality, low-cost broadband. The obstacles that our disconnected populations face combined with the staggering risk of infection are among the many reasons why we see Lifeline as a vital subsidy that can save lives.”

NCC works to ensure that local officials have a voice in national policy discussions, elevating the need for digital infrastructure and access to high-speed connectivity. Click here to submit a comment. Click here to review the filing.