Hot on the heels of yesterday’s news that the FCC would begin to subsidize broadband in low-income households, President Obama voiced support for the FCC’s ‘Lifeline’ subsidy and detailed a desire to expand the initiative to get 20 million low-income households subscribed to high-speed internet service by 2020.
This announcement further drives this administration’s desire to treat broadband internet as a utility that should be extended to all residents. Obama previously cited a “homework gap” that saw many students unable to complete school assignments that required internet access.
“All of America’s students should be able to get online, no matter where they live or how much their parents make,” Obama said. “We’re calling this effort ConnectAll — and it’s not just good for students, it’s good for folks looking for jobs or workers hoping to learn new skills.”
With an average cost of approximately $52.50 per month, broadband is out of reach for many low-income families. The results of this broadband gap have a significant economic impact in many communities across the US.
The White House released a report detailing these economic effects — one that focused largely on the disadvantage job seekers face without internet access. Job seekers who search online find employment 25 percent faster than those who use traditional job search methods.
Connecting 20 million more people would bring broadband adoption in the US to 82 percent, up from 76 percent at the end of 2014.