The FCC continues to reform the agency’s $1.7 billion Lifeline program, historically tasked with helping bring telecom services to those without. The FCC this morning confirmed the agency is circulating a proposal that would offer a $9.25/mo subsidy that low-income homes could use to help pay for broadband access. Low-income homes can already get the $9.25 for phone or wireless service but not broadband. This update would change that.
According to a fact sheet being circulated by the agency, the proposal would set a new budget of “$2.25 billion, indexed to inflation, sufficient to allow for increased participation generated by support for broadband service.”The FCC had considered imposing a new tax to help fund low-income broadband a few years ago, but unsurprisingly found the idea politically toxic. Still, though the FCC announcement downplays this, it seems likely that users will ultimately pay more to help bridge the digital divide, something the FCC insists is a worthy goal.
As it stands, while 95% of homes with household income above $150,000 have broadband, that percentage drops to just 48% for households making $25,000 or less.
There’s notable opposition from some of the FCC’s Commissioners in large part due to the program’s history of fraud. The FCC has already fined companies like AT&T $10.4 million for defrauding the program, and the FCC’s fact sheet claims this new reform effort — to be voted on soon — would include notable improvements in the way the FCC tracks spending and verifies qualifying households.
What sort of fee will be imposed on non-subsidized customers?
We tax everything. Years ago I went VOIP mostly to avoid huge phone bills. It was a good move. For Internet access, Freedompop provides unlimited 4G LTE through Sprint for $15 a month. If you don’t game online it’s decent enough. During a power failure recently my phone went through 22 GB of data, without any complaint from Freedompop. If a private company can give unlimited Internet to users for $15 a month, can’t we make it available to all?
Instead of licensing all spectrum to LTE 4G, the government may wish to reserve some for a free or subsidized Internet. It would likely cost less.
Congress could mess up a one piece jigsaw puzzle.
Voting for “Santa” gets you “Detroit”