FCC halts 9 companies from providing subsidized broadband internet

Under its new director, the FCC has wasted no time in reversing policies put in place under the previous administration. New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has announced that nine companies won't be allowed to participate in a federal program called Lifeline. With this program, low income customers can receive a monthly $9.25 credit that helps them pay for high-speed broadband internet.

Once upon a time, Lifeline only handed out credits for landline and mobile phone bills, but under previous FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, it was expanded to include broadband internet. It was shortly before Wheeler left his office that the FCC gave these nine companies approval to begin participating in lifeline, which Pai is now reversing. According to Pai, these approvals were a case of "midnight regulation."

"These last-minute actions, which did not enjoy the support of the majority of commissioners at the time they were taken, should not bind us going forward," Pai said in his announcement. There doesn't seem to be any word at the moment if these nine companies will be considered for approval under the FCC's new leadership.

Pai's statement seems to leave the door open in that regard, as does his stated desire to close the "digital gap" as Chairman of the FCC. Though many of us probably have a hard time imagining life without access to home internet, there are certain segments of the population where it isn't quite as ubiquitous. These segments include the elderly and the poor, and the latter group was targeted with these approvals.

Hopefully these companies get another chance of approval under a Pai-led FCC. Increasingly, the internet is becoming a necessity, especially for households with school-age children. We'll have to see where Pai's FCC goes from here, so stay tuned for more.

SOURCE: The Washington Post