This week the City of Seattle and the Washington State Council on Digital Inclusion submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on proposed changes in rules that would expand telephone support programs to include broadband deployment and adoption.
Comments support the FCC’s desire to use savings from the Lifeline Program/Universal Services Fund to support programs and services to improve digital literacy and broadband adoption among Americans who face barriers to benefitting from these technologies.
Here are the key positions taken in the comments:
- A wide range of disadvantaged residents need these programs to help them access jobs, education, health information, and essential services. These include immigrants and refugees, disabled, communities of color, and seniors. Let local communities propose projects that best serve local needs and leverage community assets.
- Community based non-profit organizations and local governments should be eligible organizations in addition to schools and libraries.
- The FCC should build on organizations with training expertise and what has been begun by the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
- The FCC should develop other funding mechanisms, as well as encouraging industry incentives and partnerships that sustain digital literacy training programs and do not reduce funding for existing voice and broadband programs.
- The FCC should support sharing of best practices and training in delivery of digital literacy.
- We support the American Libraries Association position that money should also not be taken away from E-rate for this effort.
The City of Seattle has been a leader in digital inclusion efforts with programs including the Technology Matching Fund program, Seniors Training Seniors in Technology, RecTech/Parks Department computer learning centers, and Access for All cable broadband program for non-profit tech learning centers. See www.Seattle.gov/tech
See more about the Washington State Council on Digital Inclusion on the Communities Connect Network learning and resource hub at www.communitiesconnect.org. This includes a directory of technology learning centers across the state.
Link to the FCC filing:
http://bit.ly/JIO0vg or http://seattle.gov/tech/docs/WA_DigInclusionCouncil_City_of_Seattle_Comments.pdf