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Help Millions of Americans Access Broadband Internet

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Sharell is a single mother who worked tirelessly to make sure she could attend college and use her education to support her two children. After balancing her time between work, school, and motherhood, Sharell’s access to childcare was unexpectedly cut off and she had to quit working to look after her children. She was no longer able to financially support herself and soon fell into deep financial trouble. Sharell could no longer afford necessities like her phone, and soon became disconnected from job and education opportunities.

Then, Sharell found out about the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program, a Universal Service Fund subsidy that has helped carriers give millions of low-income Americans access to telephone service. Through the Lifeline program, Sharell was able to apply for new jobs, find a new daycare, and eventually find a new home. Sharell credits the Lifeline program with saving her life, but knows that for many low-income and rural Americans, telephone service isn’t enough. Millions of Americans still don’t have access to broadband Internet. Join Sharell and Public Knowledge to tell the FCC that broadband Internet should be included in the modernization of the Lifeline program.

When the FCC developed the Lifeline Program in 1985, 80.1% of low-income Americans had access to telephone services, and by 2013, that percentage grew to 92%. This critical program helps families across America pay for basic telephone services that connect them to emergency services, doctors, schools, job opportunities, and more, but in 2016, people are using the Internet for many of these services, so families need to have the choice of using the subsidy for Internet access.

All of us apply for jobs and use basic social services on the Internet, and that’s no different for low-income Americans. Unfortunately, less than half of households with incomes below $25,000 per year have broadband service. Thankfully, the FCC has already proposed adding broadband Internet access to the Lifeline program to help millions of Americans access Internet, but they need to hear public support for this program.

The Internet provides endless possibilities to all who have access to it - job opportunities, online support communities, databases for educational research, telehealth services, news, commerce, social networking, and much more. The Lifeline program helped us close the telephone divide - now let's make sure the FCC includes broadband Internet in the modernized Lifeline program, so we can help close the digital divide in America.

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