FCC program to help poor get online will start in December

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — Low-income Americans are expected to be able to apply for help from the federal government in paying for Internet access in December.

The Federal Communications Commissioners voted, 3-2 along party lines, Thursday to expand the $1.5 billion Lifeline program, a $9.25-a-month subsidy, to Internet as well as phone service.

It's the latest federal government attempt to close a "digital divide" between those who have access to the Internet and those who don't.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says the agency is addressing abuse and fraud problems with improvements like making an independent party check that people are eligible rather than having phone or Internet providers do it.

The program will have a $2.25 billion budget, but more could be spent. The two Republican commissioners had wanted a lower cap on spending.