Mignon Clyburn
Mignon Clyburn

Ten public-interest organizations said to be focused on high-quality broadband announced that they will be leading a #MobileOnly Challenge in January and they are asking Americans to participate.

The challenge, which began on Jan. 1 and will run through Jan. 31, calls for where participants spend one day accessing the internet via only their mobile device — foregoing desktop devices or laptops with fixed connections — and to document their experience using the hashtag #MobileOnly.

The effort aims to call attention to a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lower broadband standards and consider an internet connection on a single mobile device the same as a “fixed” broadband connection at someone’s home.

“Contrary to those who claim that mobile broadband services provide effective competitive pressure on fixed broadband providers, promoting deployment of mobile broadband services alone is not sufficient to bridge digital divides in underserved rural and urban communities,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who plans to take part in the challenge. “By standing together through this movement, we will demonstrate why it is so essential for all Americans to have access to a robust fixed broadband connection.”

The public interest leaders of the #MobileOnly Challenge include: Next Century Cities, Public Knowledge, New America’s Open Technology Institute, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the Nonprofit Technology Network, the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Coalition, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Mobile Citizen and EveryoneOn.

The challenge seeks to draw attention to the significant and numerous limitations of mobile-only service that many Americans face daily. It also will highlight just one way FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is making it harder for Americans to get the high-quality internet access that is now critical in daily life, Clyburn said.

The FCC’s proposal, outlined in the Section 706 Notice of Inquiry, released earlier in 2017, would lower the standard for what is considered acceptable broadband access. Pai’s plan suggests that Americans who have access to 10/1 Mbps speeds over mobile internet service could be considered equally “served” as households that have access to 25/3 Mbps fixed-connection broadband, which is the current broadband standard.

“A home connection to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband is essential for families across the country,” said Deb Socia, executive director of Next Century Cities. “Lowering the broadband standard would prevent Americans from accessing the full economic, educational, and social benefits of the internet, and would exacerbate the existing digital divide.

“We encourage everyone to take the #MobileOnly Challenge, and spend a day experiencing what so many Americans face and what Chairman Pai thinks is acceptable,” Socia said.

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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