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Charting Broadband Opportunities for Low-Income Americans

by: Julie Veach, Acting Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau

July 11, 2012 - 10:00 AM

We are delighted by the response last week to our groundbreaking Lifeline Broadband Adoption Pilot competition.  Our Pilot takes aim at a problem that perpetuates poverty in the 21st Century:  the low rate of broadband adoption by low-income Americans.  Providers of all kinds submitted a total of 24 applications proposing innovative programs to help us better understand and tackle that issue.

Over the years, our Lifeline program has helped tens of millions of low-income consumers afford telephone service.  But with broadband as essential today for jobs and opportunities as the phone was in the last century, the FCC in January included in its comprehensive reforms and modernization of Lifeline a Pilot program to explore ways to increase the low rate of broadband adoption among low-income Americans. Using $25 million in savings from Lifeline reforms, we will fund the selected Pilot projects for a year, while collecting valuable real world data about the experience to help the FCC determine how to use our Lifeline program to effectively increase broadband adoption.

At first glance, the applicants appear to have proposed well-structured, well-conceived pilots designed to help us gather the data we would need to design an effective Lifeline broadband support program.  Many applicants are working with partners that can provide expertise on digital literacy training and sources for low-cost equipment. Also helpful: the applicants represent a geographically diverse mix of 25 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, enabling the pilots to test regional differences.  You can view the applications in our electronic comment filing system by searching proceeding 11-42. Under “advanced options,” filter by the term “application”. Here’s a list:

  1. Allied Wireless – Tribal and non-Tribal lands in Georgia, North Carolina, and Idaho 
  2. Application of Rural Carriers in Illinois, Iowa and New Mexico: Adams Telephone Cooperative, Alpine Long      Distance LC, Leaco Rural Telephone Cooperative, Madison Telephone Company, Mid-Century Telephone Cooperative
  3. CC Communications – Churchill County, Nevada
  4. Choice Communications – U.S. Virgin Islands
  5. ConnectTo Communications – Southern California
  6. Frontier – Ohio, West Virginia
  7. Gila River Telecommunications – Tribal lands, Arizona
  8. Hopi Telecommunications, Inc. – Tribal lands, Arizona
  9. Nexus – Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, Las Vegas, Nevada and Des Moines, Iowa 
  10. Partnership for a Connected Illinois: Adams Telephone Cooperative, Cass Telephone Co., Harrisonville   Telephone Co., Madison Telephone Co., Mid- Century Telephone Cooperative, Shawnee Telephone Co.
  11. Peoples Telephone Cooperative Inc. and Peoples Wireless -- Eastern Texas
  12. PR Wireless – Puerto Rico
  13. Puerto Rico Telephone Company – Puerto Rico
  14. Sacred Wind Communications and Frontier – Tribal and non-Tribal lands in New Mexico and Arizona
  15. TAG Mobile – St. Louis, Missouri; Little Rock, Arkansas; Baltimore, Maryland; Louisville, Kentucky
  16. T-Mobile – Puerto Rico
  17. TracFone Project 1 – Florida, Maryland and Wisconsin
  18. TracFone Project 2 – Florida, Maryland, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin      
  19. Troy Cablevision, Inc. – Alabama
  20. UTPhone – Tribal and non-Tribal lands in Oklahoma
  21. Vermont Telephone Company 
  22. Virgin Mobile – Massachusetts and Ohio
  23. XChange – Central Brooklyn, New York
  24. YourTel and TerraCom – Tribal and non-Tribal lands in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas

Given broadband’s vital role in increasing access to jobs, education and economic opportunity, we’re looking forward to reviewing these exciting applications.

Updated: July 11, 2012 - 01:52 PM
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