Today, the FCC approved measures long championed by Consumer Reports to help people halt robocalls and help low-income families access the Internet.

The first vote was a clear victory for the 330,000-plus consumers who signed a petition launched early this year by Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, calling for phone companies to provide ways to block unwanted calls. (The petition and proposed solutions can be found at EndRobocalls.org.) The FCC's approval gave those companies full authority to arm customers with technology to prevent those intrusions. “Today’s FCC vote means the phone companies should stop stalling and start providing their customers with free tools to block those calls,” says Tim Marvin, who spearheaded the Consumers Union campaign.

In a separate action, the FCC also embraced a proposal to expand its Lifeline subsidy program to include broadband service. At the moment, the $9.25 monthly credit can only be applied to phone service. The FCC's decision is now open to public comment, with a final ruling likely to be issued later this year.

“People need broadband more than ever to find a job, keep a job, stay informed, and manage their day-to-day lives,” says Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “Yet we still have a serious gap where millions of Americans don’t have access to affordable broadband.”

For struggling families, the monthly subsidy would be a way to span that divide.

Consumer Reports

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