FCC scales back broadband program for low-income Americans

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The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to begin scaling back a program designed to help low-income Americans access the internet.

The federal Lifeline program, established in 1985, provides discounted phone in addition to also internet service in poorer communities. The FCC expanded the program to include broadband last year, in addition to also has given participating households a $9.25 per month credit to use for internet access.

Thursday’s 3-2 party line vote means one piece of the program will change immediately, in addition to also lays the ground work to alter or kill various other pieces.

The commission will almost immediately limit a $25 extra subsidy for homes situated anywhere on Tribal lands to rural areas only. The benefit is actually applied on top of the $9.25 subsidy already offered by the program.

Related: FCC blocks 9 companies through providing low-income internet access

Another proposal still under consideration by the panel includes preventing resellers, or internet providers in which don’t run their own infrastructure like AT&T or Sprint, through providing Lifeline support, meaning some within the program might not be able to stay with their current provider, or sign up with one at all.

The FCC has approved providers for the last two years, however another proposal under consideration would certainly send in which approval power to the states. Earlier This particular year, the FCC blocked nine companies through participating within the program.

Commissioners are also considering a proposal to cap the total amount spent on the program. Democrat commissioner Mignon Clyburn says the suggested cap is actually $820 million, more than half the current budget of $2.25 billion.

In their decisions, Republican FCC commissioners who voted to consider the proposals in addition to also implement the completely new rules cited a May 2017 Government Accountability Report in which found waste, fraud, in addition to also abuse within the program.

Critics say completely new in addition to also proposed restrictions could harm poor consumers.

In a statement, commissioner Clyburn said eliminating resellers would certainly mean a lot of people would certainly have to find completely new internet providers, in addition to also may not have options various other than the one they use.

“Over 70% of wireless Lifeline consumers will be told they cannot use their preferred carrier in addition to also preferred plan, in addition to also on top of in which, they may not have a carrier to turn to after in which happens,” Clyburn wrote.

Some of the proposals will go out for public comment before the commission meets to vote again next year.

sy88pgw (San Francisco) First published November 17, 2017: 3:12 PM ET

FCC scales back broadband program for low-income Americans

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