On Thursday, U.S. federal officials passed a plant to expand a phone subsidy program for low-income people to also include internet access. The Federal Communications Commission approved a plan that would give lower-income households internet access as part of a $9.25 a month subsidy. The measure passed 3-2 along party lines, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Lifeline subsidy has been contested by the FCC over the past few years. Proponents of the program say reliable broadband internet access is absolutely necessary in today's world, from homework assignments to financial planning.
Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the FCC commissioners, said as many as one in three U.S. households currently forgo internet service due to cost. She hopes the measure will encourage companies to provide more competitive phone and internet bundle packages.
Still, there are many details to be worked out, including the overall cost of the program. Republicans on the commission voiced concern that paying for the program will ultimately fall on the consumer.
To date, the Lifeline subsidy phone initiative has reached 12 million households and the FCC expects this new component to reach an additional 5 million families.
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