WASHINGTON – A coalition of national civil rights and labor organizations has responded to the Federal Communications Commission’s request for commentary on how to improve access to broadband for low-income, minority, and other unserved and underserved communities.
In a letter to FCC Commissioners, the coalition urged swift action to broaden the reach of broadband access through the Lifeline and Link-Up programs as an economic imperative for minorities, stating that:
“This access is critically important for success in the job market, especially in a competitive job market where March 2011 unemployment was 8.8 percent, black unemployment was 15.5 percent and Latino unemployment was 11.3 percent Broadband plays a critically important role in all parts of the jobs pipeline – covering job readiness that includes obtaining skills necessary for a job, job placement that includes successfully applying for a job, and job progression that includes retraining for advancing through a job.”
Lifeline and Link-Up have provided low-income households with discounts on monthly phone bills and initial installation charges since 1985, The letter recommends the following seven steps to enhance the effectiveness and reach of the Lifeline and Link-Up programs:
The letter was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Asian American Justice Center, Communications Workers of America, National Urban League, NAACP, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients, National Disability Rights Network, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National Organization for Women Foundation, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.