Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to advocate for affordable broadband access for Los Angeles County seniors, low-income residents and people with disabilities.

Supervisor Hilda Solis proposed that the board join the California Emerging Technology Fund to champion the Broadband Lifeline program detailed in the Internet For All Now Campaign.

“High-speed Internet access is essential in our ever-evolving digital world,” Solis said. “More needs to be done to close the digital divide in Los Angeles County.”

The CETF is pressing the Federal Communications Commission to establish a $10 rate for stand-alone broadband for eligible users with a $9.25 subsidy paid to the service provider. Funding would also be required for connection and a Wi-Fi modem.

The CETF also proposes that service providers pay into a fund for education and public outreach about available subsidies.

Roughly 76 percent of the county’s 10 million residents have broadband access at home and 10 percent of those have access through a smartphone only, according to a survey by the Field Research Corp.

Lack of access marginalizes residents and makes it harder to obtain important services.

“In today’s widely wired world, it’s virtually impossible to get a job or access healthcare information without an Internet connection,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who co-authored the motion. “That’s why it is so critical to expand access to broadband services to everyone in Los Angeles County.”

The program is based on the Lifeline telephone plan, which makes basic telephone services like 911 calling available at low rates.

The CETF was set up as a condition of approval for the mergers of SBC Communications and AT&T and Verizon and MCI and requires the companies to pay in $60 million to advance broadband.

— Wire reports 

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