Senate aims to stop FCC from stripping internet assistance from the poor

Chris Burns - Apr 4, 2018, 11:35 am CDT
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Senate aims to stop FCC from stripping internet assistance from the poor

Back in November of 2017 we took a look at a bit of legislation from the FCC that’d all but destroy the program called Lifeline. Lifeline was created all the way back during the Reagan administration to help the poor afford telephone service. The FCC during the W Bush administration updated Lifeline to include wireless internet, then the FCC during Obama’s presidency updated Lifeline to include broadband. Now the Trump FCC wants to gut Lifeline like a fish.

In November, we spoke about how the FCC was going to cut off the poor and enrich ISPs. That plan hasn’t changed since November. Instead of expanding the program to continue to fit the ever-evolving basic needs of the average modern citizen, this FCC aims to shred Lifeline to pieces. As we mentioned then, one point was particularly vicious without sufficient reason: banning all internet and phone service providers from the program unless they owned their own infrastructure.

That means that only AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile would be left. Brands like Ting, Republic Wireless, Cricket Wireless, US Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, Straight Talk Wireless, and FreedomPoP will be kicked off the program entirely. The new rules proposed by the current FCC suggests that it is meant to “enhance consumer choice.” Instead, the plan completely obliterates choice, forcing citizens to use one of the four major phone companies instead.

That’s just ONE PART of the massacre that’s going on as result of this legislation. A letter was authored and sent this week by a number of US Senators concerned about the legislation.

“Your proposal impacts over 70 percent of current Lifeline-recipient households by eliminating their wireless providers from the program, leaving less affordable and fewer Lifeline options, while making it more difficult for the companies trying to serve Lifeline customers,” said the letter sent by the Senate to the FCC. “The last thing we should be doing is rolling back the policies that have brought connectivity to millions of Americans.”

The legislation is also known as the “December 1, 2017, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).” The letter sent by the Senate this week confirms that the NPRM “provides no evidence, analysis, or data to support its assumption that the FCC’s proposed changes to Lifeline will spur facilities-based broadband deployment and additional affordable services for low-income families.” That’s concerning, to say the least.


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