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  • FCC Chief Proposes a Broadband Plan to Aid Low-Income Americans


    The FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, recently proposed subsidizing broadband Internet for poorer Americans, similar to the way it currently subsidizes phone bills according to officials with the agency. The proposal may involve giving people an option of phone service, Internet access, or a combination of the two. Any changes would modify the current Lifeline subsidy program, which is valued at $1.7 billion. Wheeler also reportedly proposed new anti-fraud measures as well.

    The measure should be coming to a vote by the FCC commissioners on June 18. According to the Times, it will likely pass given the FCC’s Democratic majority. The anti-fraud measures would take effect shortly thereafter but commissioners would then have to work on the rules and details of the broadband initiative, holding a final vote later in the year.

    It’s likely that Wheeler’s proposal regarding the broadband internet was fueled by data that revealed that only 54% of those making less than $30,000 a year had access to broadband. This number was compared to 70% overall and 88% of those with incomes over $75,000 having broadband.

    As of right now, Lifeline offers households $9.25 per month towards phone service, an offer which was extended to cellphones in 2008. Some phone plans effectively ended up becoming free as a result but the FCC could have to up the subsidy to make a dent in the cost of broadband. Wheeler is reportedly arguing to up the minimum Lifeline service standards which would set a basic amount of voice minutes and/or broadband speed.

    One of the big issues that is surfacing with the program is fraud. Last year the Justice Department indicted three people on charges of defrauding $32 million from Lifeline between September 2009 and March 2011. By 2012, the FCC had implemented measures such as crosschecking to prevent households from claiming more than one subsidy. Part of Wheeler’s proposals is a set of rules that require service providers to not only verify a person’s eligibility as they do currently but to keep proof of it for any potential audits if needed.

    As of right now, a Senate subcommittee headed by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) is due to review Lifeline on June 2. Part of the review will be considering different ways to prevent fraud. Some of the other Republicans have been critical of the program including FCC commissioner, Michael O’Rielly, who once ended up calling it “inefficient, costly and in serious need of review.”

    We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

    Source: The New York Times
    This article was originally published in forum thread: FCC Chief Proposes a Broadband Plan to Aid Low-Income Americans started by Akshay Masand View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. javiert30's Avatar
      javiert30 -
      Sounds like Kingsman.