Defending the Indefensible: Chairman Pai’s Lifeline Reversal Will Widen the Digital Divide

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[Commentary] To my great surprise and delight, the recent move by the Federal Communications Commission's new majority to revoke the designations of nine companies as Lifeline providers has provoked a firestorm in the press, on social media, and on the Hill. The furor has been so intense that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai felt moved to defend the decision on Medium this week. But the Chairman doth protest too much. His thin arguments fail to mask two clear truths:
1) His actions will make the market for Lifeline broadband services less competitive, limiting choice and keeping prices high. As a result, fewer low income Americans will be able to afford broadband; and
2) He, and fellow FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, fundamentally disagree with the structure and goals of the Lifeline program and will seek to undermine it in word and deed.
[Gigi Sohn is an internationally-known communications attorney and former Counselor to the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Currently, she is an Open Society Foundations Leadership in Government Fellow. In the coming months, Ms Sohn will be writing articles for The Digital Beat examining the importance of open, democratic, accessible, and affordable communications networks.]


Defending the Indefensible: Chairman Pai’s Lifeline Reversal Will Widen the Digital Divide