Published: February 2021

The pandemic’s impact on the digital divide: Low-income Americans need help now

The pandemic didn't create the digital divide, but it has certainly exacerbated it. Consumer Action and National Consumers League wrote to the Federal Communications Commission to applaud its efforts to bring broadband internet connection to low-income households during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, and its efforts to expand the Lifeline program to reach more low-income households. Today, Lifeline recipients can use a modest $9.25 monthly subsidy to connect to phone and/or internet services, yet only 1-in-4 eligible households enrolls in the program. As Americans continue to work, attend school, and conduct healthcare appointments online during the pandemic, it is critical that everyone has access to broadband internet.

Lifeline is a federal program that was created during the Reagan administration to subsidize telephone connections for low-income people in the United States. It’s the most comprehensive and effective federal program to bridge the home-internet affordability gap. Every American needs the internet to learn, work, access health care and other vital services, and communicate with loved ones, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, Consumer Action and National Consumers League applaud the Commission for its work to broaden access and funding to the program, and the newly-created Emergency Broadband Benefit program, so that everyone who needs it has access. They ask the FCC to continue its efforts to expand Lifeline’s reach and to suspend leftover Trump-era policies meant to cut consumers off from accessing the service.

Lead Organization

National Consumers League (NCL)

Other Organizations

National Consumers League | Consumer Action

More Information

For more information, please visit NCL.

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The pandemic’s impact on the digital divide: Low-income Americans need help now   (ConsumersFinalDA20-1529.pdf)




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