FCC Responds to Demands of Digital-Inclusion Advocates, Seeks Public Comment on Decision to Roll Back Lifeline
WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission announced it would seek public comment on its decision to revoke nine Lifeline Broadband Provider designations.
The action came in direct response to nearly 40 digital inclusion advocacy organizations — including the American Library Association, the Center for Media Justice, Free Press, the NAACP, the United Church of Christ Office of Communication Inc., the National Consumer Law Center and the National Hispanic Media Coalition — that last week urged the agency to reverse its Feb. 3 decision revoking Lifeline Broadband Provider status of nine internet service providers. The decision to revoke, made under the direction of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, made it more difficult, if not impossible, for tens of thousands of low-income families and students to get online.
The full letter, which also urged the FCC to swiftly implement the Lifeline Modernization Order adopted in March 2016, is available at: http://www.freepress.net/
Under FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the agency had expanded and modernized Lifeline to help make high-speed internet access more affordable to people in low-income communities around the country. By revoking the status of these nine providers, Pai took away the connections of 17,500 customers that one of these providers was already serving, and stalled imminent service from the other eight.
Free Press Deputy Director and Senior Counsel Jessica J. González made the following statement:
“If Chairman Pai is serious about bridging the digital divide, this is a good first step toward making amends. Once the comments come in, Pai should overturn his bureau’s action rescinding these Lifeline Broadband Provider designations. He should also commit unequivocally to swiftly implementing the Lifeline Modernization Order and rejecting any further efforts to undermine Lifeline. Thus far, his overtures on connecting poor people and people of color have been insincere. To be taken seriously, Pai needs to commit fully to Lifeline and take other bold steps to promote competition and lower the steep cost of broadband access.”