CWA, civil rights, public interest groups urge FCC to preserve Lifeline

CWAcivil rights, and public interest groups filed comments in the FCC's most recent Lifeline proceeding. The Commission's proposals attack the country’s poorest communities by attempting to gut a program that provides a modest $9.25/month subsidy to almost 9 million low-income households to help pay for communications services.

Late last year, Chairman Pai began his newest assault on the Lifeline program, which addresses the high cost of broadband service and helps close the digital divide. The Trump-appointed chairman has proposed to target Lifeline funds to facilities-based networks, even as most Lifeline recipients opt for resellers of mobile service. In short, Pai is attempting to hollow out the program. He wants to impose a cap to weaken the program and address “waste, fraud, and abuse” allegations that have been raised and debunked for years.

CWA and its allies in the civil rights and public interest communities urged the Commission to reject proposals that would weaken the Lifeline program and exacerbate the digital divide for low-income households. Specifically, CWA urged the FCC to reject the following proposals: (1) a program budget cap that would depress participation rates and destabilize the program; (2) a mandatory co-pay that would deter participation of the poorest households; and (3) limiting (provider) participation to those providers who own or operate their own facilities, effectively disqualifying Lifeline carriers currently serving 70 percent of Lifeline households.

Read CWA’s full comments here.

 

Links:

CWA’s Comments in the Lifeline proceeding (FCC, Feb. 21, 2018)

Pai’s FCC continues policy approach: giveaways for Sinclair, attacks on the poor (Speed Matters, Oct. 27, 2017)