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FCC Launches Low-Income Broadband Adoption Competition

The FCC is using $25 million it says it saved from its low-income broadband Lifeline program to fund a competition to identify pilot programs that can best increase high-speed broadband adoption in households making less than $25,000 annually.

Cable operators have already teamed up for the Connect to Compete low-income adoption program based on Comcast's Internet Essentials program launched last year. The FCC said Monday the latest effort will build on that initiative.

The FCC says the money comes from savings tied to its Universal Service Funds last year, and will go toward pilot programs across the country by telecom carriers eligible for Lifeline subsidies. The money will be spread around various geographic areas, across various technologies (fixed and mobile). The FCC will study the various projects to come up with the most effective, and then give them a shout-out in the fall.

"Low-income Americans are disproportionately excluded from the $8 trillion dollar global Internet economy, and all of its benefits," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. "By reforming the Lifeline program earlier this year to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse, we were able to save tens of millions of dollars to support this competition.  The data we collect will help identify the best ways to close the broadband adoption gap and unleash the benefits of high-speed Internet for every American."