Seeking to close the so-called "digital divide" between the haves and the have-nots, Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., introduced a bill Tuesday that would subsidize Internet services.
Low-income Americans need access to affordable high-speed internet as much as anyone, Matsui said. She first introduced the bill in 2009.
"Income should not hinder the ability of hard-working American families to attain broadband services that have become a necessity, not a luxury in our technologically driven economy. If you don't have it, you are simply at a competitive disadvantage," Matsui, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said in a statement.
It's not enough to have the option to buy Internet access, she argued. "To close the digital divide, we must address the affordability of broadband services for lower-income households. Although these households may have some options for broadband access, they are underserved if these options are not affordable."
The Broadband Affordability Act of 2011 directs the Federal Communications Commission to establish a program to subsidize Internet services. The program would be similar to current subsidies for telephone service.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association praised the proposal for being competitively neutral.