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Ajit Pai faces heat over proposal to take away poor people's broadband plans



The Federal Communications Commission chairman's plan for the Lifeline Subsidiary program would be the most commonplace of the millions of Americans program to find new providers. Lifeline-subsidized service.

"Lifeline-recipient households by eliminating their wireless providers from the Lifeline customers, "Senate Democrats wrote in the letter to Pai yesterday. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

The letter was written by Sens. , Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D- Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), And Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Pai offered no evidence, Democrats say

Lifeline lets poor people use a $ 9.25 or phone service. More than 70 percent of wireless phone users who rely on Lifeline subsidies buy their plans from resellers, i.e.

Pai's plan would prevent all resellers from participating in Lifeline, limiting the subsidies to "facilities-based broadband" providers, that operate their own networks.

Pai claimed that kicking resellers out of the program would track facilities-based carriers to invest in their broadband networks. But his proposal offered no evidence for this claim, Democrats wrote.

The December 1

, 2017, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) provides no evidence, analysis, or data to support its assumption that the FCC's proposed changes to Lifeline wants to track facilities-based broadband deployment and additional affordable services for low-income families. Provide any specific data, analysis, academic studies, economic reports, etc. that you relied upon to support this assumption. Explain why the NPRM does not support this assumption.

Proposed spending cap

Lifeline has more than 12 million subscribers, but only one-third of eligible households receive the subsidies. Pai's proposal would also be impose an annual cap on Lifeline spending, which could be for many. Lifeline currently has a budget of $ 2.25 billion, indexed to inflation, but no hard cap on spending.

In addition to the standard $ 9.25 monthly subsidy for low-income households, tribal residents are eligible for another $ 25 a month. Pai's FCC has already received $ 25 extra subsidy for tribal residents living in urban rather than rural areas.

Lifeline is essential for low-income Americans "who rely on "Democrats wrote in the letter to Pai."

Lifeline subsidy recipients include a disproportionate number of families

The senators ended their letter to Pai by asking the following questions:

  1. What is the FCC's plan for the millions of Americans that would loose service due to your
  2. How many Americans in total, broken down by state, would loose their current service provider under your proposal? Lifeline service
  3. How do you ensure the integrity of the record is intact, and that it will be used in your decision-making process?
  4. How does your proposal help to increase the already terrible connectivity situation in Puerto Rico after its devastation by recent hurricanes?
  5. How does your proposal ensure connectivity / affect availability of Lifeline for the following groups?
    1. Tribal members
    2. Rural Americans
    3. Low-income Americans
    4. Veterans
    5. Elderly populations

Pai could still change or drop his plans for banning resellers and capping jumpsuit lifeline spending. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking the public for comment, and the deadline for submitting feedback passed last week.

We asked the chairman's office for a response to the senators letter and an update on his Lifeline plan. We'll update this story if we get to answer.


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