Federal broadband subsidies for the poor approved by the FCC

This week was an important week in rule making for the FCC, not only did the FCC clarify an 1991 ruling that makes it easier for carriers to block spam texts and robocalls, it has also voted to allow the federal government to give a broadband subsidy to the poor. Under the plan proposed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the Lifeline program currently used to provide phone service to the poor could be used to pay for internet service as well.

While the FCC has voted in favor of the plan, it still has to be fully approved before going into effect. The FCC is a five-member commission with the three Democrats on the panel voting in favor of the plan with the two Republican members voting against.

Additional details on the proposal will be offered in the coming days and public comments will be taken later this year that will be taken into consideration when the final rules on the program are drafted. One big question that many are interested to see answered is how the FCC proposes to pay for the subsidies.

The FCC also has to convince the public that the subsidy is worth doing. For now, the FCC plan wants to keep the subsidy at $9.25 per month. Few areas have broadband pans that you can purchase for that amount of money. The current subsidy plan has been widely abused and that abuse is something that the FCC needs to address according to Randolph May, president of the Free State Foundation. the current proposal would allow users to spend the $9.25 monthly subsidy on wireline or mobile service, but not both.