EveryoneOn Joins Obama Administration Initiative to Connect All Americans

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The announcement of ConnectALL comes on the heels of historic Lifeline modernization recommendations.

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Today, we add our voice and support to the chorus of those supporting connectivity and technology for all.

This week, the work to connect all Americans received two boosts, including the announcement of the Obama Administration initiative to help further its commitment to ending the digital divide and changes to a current program that could help low-income Americans subsidize the cost of home Internet access.

Called ConnectALL, the new initiative will help Americans at every income level to get online and have the tools to take advantage of the opportunities that the Internet provides. Through a variety of private and public commitments, ConnectALL’s goal is to connect 20 million more Americans to broadband by 2020.

Specifically, EveryoneOn joins the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) BroadbandUSA program and its Community Connectivity Initiative. This initiative will create a comprehensive online assessment tool to help community leaders identify critical broadband needs and connect them with expertise, tools, and resources for overcoming challenges to expanded broadband deployment and adoption.

Other organizations joining this initiative include: American Library Association; Blandin Foundation; ConnectME Authority; ICMA, The International City/County Management Association; National Association of Counties; National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors; National Digital Inclusion Alliance; National League of Cities; New America's Open Technology Institute; Next Century Cities; NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association; Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition; and US Ignite.

In addition, dozens of cities and towns have signed on as collaborators. Among them are: Ammon, Idaho; Arvada, Colo.; Baltimore, Md.; Bettendorf, Iowa; Boston, Mass.; Charlotte, N.C.; Hopewell, Va.; Hurst, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Kenmore, Wash.; Lenexa, Kan.; Putnam, Conn.; Sammamish, Wash.; Hot Springs, Ark.; Oak Harbor, Wash.; Greenbelt, Md.; SeaTac, Wash.; and Red Wing, Minn. If you are part of a community or organization that wants to contribute or participate, send an email to BroadbandUSA@ntia.doc.gov.

In addition to the ConnectAll announcement, the Administration submitted its recommendation that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reform a $1.5 billion per year phone subsidy program called Lifeline to provide a broadband subsidy to help low-income Americans get online. Earlier this week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn submitted a proposal to revamp the FCC’s Lifeline Program. The program was created in 1985 and since that time has only directly subsidized the provision of voice telephone service for eligible low-income households.

The FCC will vote on the Chairman’s proposal at its upcoming March 31, 2016 meeting.

At EveryoneOn, we have also reviewed the Lifeline recommendations and have found them promising for all low-income Americans. The recommendations include several key changes:
Eligible low-income households would be able to use the provided $9.25 per month subsidy to purchase standalone broadband service, voice-only service or apply it to bundled voice and broadband service.
The creation of a new process in qualifying potential broadband providers for the Lifeline programs, which should encourage widespread participation by Internet providers and provide eligible households more choices.
The creation of a third-party National Eligibility Verifier process. This process will remove the program verification process from the service providers, which has become a barrier for many families in qualifying for the subsidy.

“We are pleased that Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn have outlined significant and potentially monumental changes to the Lifeline program that has already helped some many Americans. By putting forth these recommendations, those working to end the digital divide will now have additional tools in our toolkit to help connect all Americans. Today, we add our voice and support to the chorus of those supporting connectivity and technology for all,” said Chike Aguh, EveryoneOn’s chief executive officer.

“In addition to Lifeline changes, we are excited to be part of ConnectALL, another significant effort of the Obama administration and its work to end the digital divide. Already, we are on the ground in both rural and urban locations, advocating for and teaching communities about the importance and the life-changing opportunity the Internet provides. Together with the Community Connectivity Initiative, we will now have more tools to serve low-income Americans and help change their daily lives.”

About EveryoneOn

EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit that aims to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet, computers, and free digital literacy training accessible to all unconnected U.S. residents. EveryoneOn has connected almost 200,000 low-income households. For more information about EveryoneOn, visit EveryoneOn.org.

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