Support Internet subsidies for poor


Nowadays, most Americans cannot imagine what it must be like to live without Internet access. It has become an integral part of our everyday lives. For example, most — if not all — of us were appalled when the Egyptian government shut down the entire country's Internet. President Barack Obama himself called upon the Egyptian government to return the Internet to the people. That's probably why the Federal Communications Commission is currently considering changing the Universal Service Fund from a telephone line subsidy to a broadband Internet connection subsidy. In fact, the Internet's key position in contemporary society is why the FCC should go through with the proposed changes. These days, what poor and rural areas need are Internet connections – not so much telephones.

There was a time when the telephone was the best and fastest way to communicate with the outside world. In those days, the Universal Service Fund made sense. Now, however, that fund is outdated. The Internet has arguably become the most important fixture — technological or otherwise — in American society and abroad. Who needs a phone line when you can video chat with, say, your relatives in Italy for free?

Not only does the Internet allow people to communicate with each other just as well, if not better, than the telephone does, but it also doubles as a one-stop source for basically every bit of information one could ever need. Telephones can only deliver the news that the person on the other end can deliver. The Internet, by contrast, can deliver the news that anyone with web access can share. Needless to say, that's a lot of news. Not to mention the fact that the Internet is a pretty great source of seemingly endless free entertainment — games, movies, television, music and even books. Telephone entertainment is limited to gossip and prank calls, which are just plain mean, anyway.

The Internet, then, is almost infinitely more valuable than its predecessor, the telephone. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's claim that "Broadband serves the same role in the 21st Century that telephone service served in the 20th Century" is ultimately an understatement. In fact, the Internet does so much more than what the telephone services could ever do. What poor and rural areas need now is broadband, and we're confident that the FCC will transform the Universal Service Fund, thereby making America a better place for everyone. That is, as long as the president never decides it is necessary to shut down the entire country's Internet.


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