On April 12, NaLA submitted comments to the FCC on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement requirements of the Safe Connections Act. The comments urge the FCC to designate the Lifeline program as the program to provide emergency communications for qualifying survivors suffering from financial hardship because:
- Lifeline is a permanent solution reliably funded through the Universal Service Fund (USF);
- Lifeline subscribers are automatically eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) as well, meaning survivors can use benefits from both programs;
- And unlike the ACP, Lifeline supports voice services, and Lifeline plans generally include bundles of broadband and voice service, providing survivors with the ability to dial 911, shelters and other support services when necessary.
To adequately serve the needs of survivors suffering from financial hardship and all low-income households, and taking lessons from the successful ACP, NaLA also calls for reform of the Lifeline program, particularly in the event that ACP funding is exhausted (which is expected to be early to mid-2024).
NaLA firmly believes that connecting survivors of domestic and sexual violence is a literal lifeline to safety, providing access to information, resources and support they might not otherwise have.
You can read the full comments here, which include details on NaLA’s suggestions for Lifeline reform and other recommendations for supporting survivors of abuse through access to essential communications services.