Universal Service should be redefined to ensure low-income consumers have access broadband service, according to a petition the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed with the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, has noted that broadband communication is becoming the “great economic engine of our time” while others like Commissioner Copps have likened it to the highways. High speed Internet access is among the critical infrastructures like electricity protected by the Department of Homeland Security. “With this much understanding of the importance of broadband, connecting low income residents should be a top priority,” said Ed Black, President & CEO of the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

While the FCC is considering a free broadband requirement for the AWS-3 spectrum, CCIA argues in its petition that reallocating TV spectrum to harvest unused white spaces between digital TV signals for broadband is a much better way to improve broadband availability and use for low income households especially those in rural areas.

The petition calls on the FCC to revise the universal service program to provide Lifeline and Link-Up support for low-income consumers access to broadband.

“Studies show low-income residents are the most likely to miss out on the broadband revolution and market conditions are not likely to take care of the problem,” Black said. “Policymakers and others call for the nation to do more to ensure access for all Americans. The best tool the FCC has to address this growing digital divide is redefining universal service to bring broadband to low income households.”

Click Here for CCIA Petition

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