Common Cause Urges FCC To Reconsider Impact of Broadband Deregulation on Affordable Connectivity For Low-Income Households

Yesterday, Common Cause, along with the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institute, the United Church of Christ, OC Inc., and Free Press filed a Petition for Reconsideration with the Federal Communications Commission regarding the FCC’s 2020 Net Neutrality Remand Order. The FCC’s Remand Order concluded that the agency’s deregulation of broadband outweighs any harm to public safety, competition, and affordable broadband for low-income households.

The Petition for Reconsideration addresses how the Remand Order weakened the FCC’s legal authority to provide low-income households with affordable broadband through the Lifeline program at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for connectivity greater than ever. The Petitioners ask the FCC to vacate the Remand Order and open a proceeding to reinstate broadband as a Title II service – the agency’s strongest legal authority – to support affordable broadband.

Statement of Michael Copps, former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Adviser

“Broadband has never been more critical to our democracy and meeting the daily needs of everyday life than it is now during a global pandemic, which has presented unprecedented public health and economic challenges. Since the FCC deregulated broadband, millions of low-income households are unemployed and often find themselves in circumstances where they must choose between paying for broadband or another essential service instead. Studies have shown that the economic fallout has disproportionately impacted communities of color with workers in Black and Latinx communities still experiencing significant levels of unemployment. The COVID-19 vaccine rollout, much of which relies on online registration, has also exposed the affordability gap threatening to leave those behind who cannot afford connectivity.

“The FCC’s Lifeline program is one of the most effective pathways for providing affordable broadband to millions of low-income households now. But the FCC’s broadband deregulation policies have weakened the program’s ability to meet the connectivity needs of low-income households. As the pandemic has made painstakingly obvious, this is a time to strengthen the Lifeline program’s legal authority, not weaken it.

“We should no longer have to suffer the consequences of the FCC’s abdication of broadband authority with so many still struggling to afford broadband. We urge the FCC to reinstate the strongest possible legal authority for broadband to help people get online and stay online.”

To read the Petition for Reconsideration, click here.