What Low-Income People Will Lose with a Deadlocked FCC

Revevilgod God revevilgod at gmx.com
Sun May 1 16:53:50 PDT 2022


When the massive, bipartisan infrastructure package passed Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was tasked with ensuring equal access to broadband services. That provision is called “Digital Discrimination” and it states, for the first time in federal law, that specifically broadband access cannot be built along the lines of race, income, and other protected classes unless an ISP has an economic or technical justification for the discrimination. In other words, it is now a matter of federal law that digital redlining is banned.

Major ISPs fought hard to remove this provision, mostly because they’ve engaged in discrimination based on income status for many years. It is why EFF and dozens of organizations have called for a ban on digital redlining of broadband access back in 2020. Study, after study, after study has shown the same result. Wealthy Americans are getting fiber optic connectivity pushed closer to their homes starting as far back as 2005 while low-income people have been forced to stay on legacy copper and coaxial cable connections built as far back as 30 years ago.

But despite the evidence, the law, and the command by Congress, it is still a possibility that equal access for all Americans will be denied if the Senate does not confirm the Biden Administration’s FCC nominee, Gigi Sohn, to the agency. That is because the current four commissioners on the FCC have deep ideological differences of opinion with two believing broadband should be a regulated service with the other two supporting the full deregulation of broadband providers that started under the Pai FCC. Ms. Sohn’s public commitments have made clear she would support regulating broadband as an essential service, which aligns with where most Americans are today with 80 percent of people believing broadband is as important to their lives as electricity and water. If you support the idea that broadband should be treated as importantly as water and electricity, you should call your two Senators now and ask them to vote yes on Ms. Sohn.

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