FCC votes along party lines to scale back federal Lifeline program

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,084   +131
Staff member

The Federal Communications Commission last year voted to approve a subsidy that would make it more affordable for low-income households to obtain broadband Internet access. The plan, which would offer a monthly subsidy of $9.25, was pushed through before the election under Democratic majority.

The FCC, now led by Republicans, is changing course. It recently voted 3-2 to scale back Lifeline, a federal program that has helped low-income people with communication needs since 1985 (the broadband subsidy is part of Lifeline).

The Lifeline program up to this point has offered an additional $25 per month to eligible households on Tribal lands. Following the new rules, Tribal discounts will only be available to people living in rural areas.

The turn of events isn’t surprising. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was a Republican commissioner last year, voted against the subsidy. He argued at the time that the FCC should instead put a lower, hard cap on the subsidy and said the FCC’s failure to clean up fraud, waste and abuse that currently exists could jeopardize the entire program.

Now, with the FCC under Republican leadership and Pai at the helm, he can do something about it.

The new rules also increase consumer choice by eliminating restrictions that barred participants from changing service providers for a year. Other aspects of the program, like providing provider incentives, are seeking comment from the public.

Additional details can be found in the FCC’s press release on the matter.

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psycros

Posts: 3,407   +3,911
Their absolutely right to do away with subsidies for those who live in areas served by DSL and cable. Consumers in the urban/suburban areas have numerous cheap options for internet, including a growing number of public hotspots. Its the rural dwellers who are really being left behind. Most of these folks can't afford satellite (which is a joke anyway) nor can they afford to move somewhere within the reach of wired broadband. The majority of tax dollars meant for increasing connectivity should be used to reach those with NO affordable choices for modern internet. That's what federal money earmarked for the purpose was *supposed* to be used for over the past 15 years, but there was no oversight whatsoever so naturally the ISPs used the subsidies to further increase capacity in the biggest markets. When the FCC finally started demanding accountability the big telecoms immediately abandoned the most under-served areas of the country. Most of the small fry who moved in and replaced them are overwhelmed. Companies like Frontier Communications have failed to even maintain the level of service that preceded them.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,402   +3,494
Their absolutely right to do away with subsidies for those who live in areas served by DSL and cable. Consumers in the urban/suburban areas have numerous cheap options for internet, including a growing number of public hotspots. Its the rural dwellers who are really being left behind. Most of these folks can't afford satellite (which is a joke anyway) nor can they afford to move somewhere within the reach of wired broadband. The majority of tax dollars meant for increasing connectivity should be used to reach those with NO affordable choices for modern internet. That's what federal money earmarked for the purpose was *supposed* to be used for over the past 15 years, but there was no oversight whatsoever so naturally the ISPs used the subsidies to further increase capacity in the biggest markets. When the FCC finally started demanding accountability the big telecoms immediately abandoned the most under-served areas of the country. Most of the small fry who moved in and replaced them are overwhelmed. Companies like Frontier Communications have failed to even maintain the level of service that preceded them.
"numerous" and "cheap" do not mean what you think they mean. Many cities have '1' option for broadband speed internet, and a shitty DSL option that cost more then the cable option does. We can either pay Spectrum $65 for internet, or pay frontier $90 (or $45 for dial up like speed).

I agree that the current subsidies makes no sense. We should be putting money into competition for current incumbent ISPs, which would do a lot more for lowering price.

As for serving rural areas, short of a federal mandate, it wont happen. There is no money in it, and ISPs look for any excuse to not do it. You have to force them to serve rural customers.
 

EClyde

Posts: 2,390   +941
There are way to many subsidies going on and this is one we don't need. For education....pffft PLEASE
 

TheBigT42

Posts: 524   +429
Stop internet provider companies government sanctioned monopolies...encourage competition and prices will go down.
 

treetops

Posts: 3,064   +784
Looks like some kids won't be able to do their homework, why do repub politicians always sh!t on the non wealthy?
 

lostinlodos

Posts: 184   +44
..."numerous" and "cheap" do not mean what you think they mean. Many cities have '1' option for broadband speed internet, and a shitty DSL option that cost more then the cable option does. We can either pay Spectrum $65 for internet, or pay frontier $90 (or $45 for dial up like speed)...
I’m failing to understand what people consider competition! I’m more than 20 miles from the “city”. Here we have 5 options for “cable” Internet, another 3 for hb-dsl! And fibre options as well.
Cable internet starts at 25mb downstream. At $40/mo. DSL starts at 5mb at $20. Fibre is still a bit of a joke with the low end being 500mbs at $250 per month.
Cable tv runs from 9.99 for local to 450 for everything not international. The high end including telephone and 100mbs internet.
Prices are steady, even dropping a bit, on the higher end, for total media packages.
Rural has an issue, always has. Every major city has competition. You just have to look for it. Er, and be realistic on what good pricing is.