DEAR EDITOR:

Most of us take for granted that we can pick up the phone or hop online, instantly communicating with family and friends. We can connect with almost anyone in the world, pay bills, call for emergency help or even apply for a job.

Imagine if you were suddenly laid off and couldn’t afford phone or internet services. What if you worked two jobs and had to sacrifice these vital amenities, even temporarily?

Unfortunately, too many people in Georgia face this problem. In our state, an estimated 800,000 citizens qualify for – but are not registered for – a program that could help. Since 1985, “Lifeline” has provided landline or mobile phone assistance, offering discounts from $5.25 to $9.25 per month. For certain providers, this covers the entire monthly cost.

Georgians who qualify for Lifeline also qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit. This program provides up to $50 per month towards home broadband service and up to a $100 one-time benefit toward the purchase of a desktop, laptop or tablet.

As a Georgia Public Service Commissioner and chairman of the Georgia PSC Telecommunications Committee, I’m joining commissioners nationwide to raise awareness of these programs. At my request, Gov. Brian Kemp has signed a proclamation designating Sept. 20-24 “Lifeline Awareness Week.”

For more information on how to sign up for Lifeline and the Emergency Broadband Benefit, visit FCC.gov/lifeline-consumers and FCC.gov/BroadbandBenefit or contact the PSC at 404-656-4501.

Commissioner Fitz Johnson

Georgia Public Service Commission

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