Closing the digital divide through broadband expansion (Rep. Doris Matsui)


In my home state of California, an estimated 96 percent of California residences have access to broadband.   However, a little more than half of Californians have adopted broadband at home.  In contrast, 97 percent of those earning $80,000 annually subscribe to one of these services.  In most cases, adoption rates are associated with income, and in order to close the Digital Divide, we must extend the privilege of home Internet access to all American families. 

This is why I have introduced the Broadband Affordability Act in the House of Representatives.  As the bill is being considered by the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am working with my colleagues to illustrate the need amongst low-income Americans for this critical service.  The bill has been endorsed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and just this week, the Board of Directors of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) unanimously adopted a resolution supporting this important legislation at its annual meeting in Chicago. 

If enacted, a broadband Lifeline Assistance program will be established under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) within the already-existing framework of the Universal Services Fund (USF) to create a program for universal broadband adoption similar to the current USF lifeline assistance program.  As a result, we will expand affordable broadband access in urban and rural areas, particularly for low-income households, and help close the digital divide for millions of Americans.