Q4 of 2016 is right around the corner and the “Digital Divide” is something that is not going away. We are nearing the December 1st milestone of the “2016 Lifeline Modernization Order” where this year, starting on December 1st, broadband services was voted into this program. The EAF Remarketing Service will be instrumental to this program by supplying the needed computers and accessories.
“These changes have been developed to continue the mission of assisting all Americans to get and stay connected in today’s technological climate, while at the same time, relieving some of the burden on the carriers providing this service.
In the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order, the Commission included broadband as a support service in the Lifeline program. The Commission also set out minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported services to ensure maximum value for the universal service dollar, and established a National Eligibility Verifier to make independent subscriber eligibility determinations.”
(2016 Lifeline Order, 2016)
What this means?
Effective: December 1, 2016
The Lifeline Program further connecting low-income Americans to voice services and, now, broadband. These changes have been developed to continue the mission of assisting all Americans to get and stay connected in today’s technological climate
The 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order outlines changes to the Lifeline Program needed to bridge the digital divide that exists today. The inclusion of broadband will help connect all Americans to the internet, closing the “homework gap,” and eliminating the distance to meaningful employment and reliable healthcare.
On December 1, 2016 (or 60 days after Paperwork Reduction Act approval, whichever date is later), Lifeline Program consumers will have the choice (where applicable) of applying their benefit to one of three types of service offerings:
- Fixed or mobile broadband,
- Fixed or mobile voice-only (to be phased out by the end of 2021 with the exception of certain areas), or
- Bundles of fixed or mobile voice and broadband.
Consumers are still allowed only one Lifeline Program benefit per household
Minimum Service Standards
In addition, the establishment of minimum service standards will ensure that supported services keep pace with the ever-changing digital landscape. Minimum service standards will gradually increase over the next five years. These standards will be evaluated yearly to ensure the continued support of robust and meaningful broadband connectivity.
The Electronic Access Foundation is positioned to help close this Digital Divide by supplying the computer equipment to the low-income families. We accomplish this through a process of donations of viable computer equipment that businesses do not need. Through our process of refurbishing and remarketing of the equipment, we can restore the equipment to good use for low-income families as part of the HUD’s ConnectHome program.
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