The FCC is stopping 9 companies from providing federally subsidized Internet to the poor

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The Federal Communications Commission is telling nine companies they won't be allowed to participate in a federal program meant to help them provide affordable Internet access to low-income consumers — weeks after those companies had been given the green light.

The move undercuts the companies' ability to provide low-cost Internet access to poorer Americans. For Kajeet Inc., one of the companies that was initially granted permission to provide service through Lifeline, the news comes as a blow. “I’m most concerned about the children we serve,” said Kajeet founder Daniel Neal. “We partner with school districts — 41 states and the District of Columbia — to provide educational broadband so that poor kids can do their homework.” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had indicated that closing the digital divide is one of the signature issues he hopes to address. But the Feb 3 move cuts against those remarks.

"The most obvious fact in our society is that high-speed Internet is astronomically expensive for the middle-class and down," said Gene Kimmelman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. "So in any way limiting the Lifeline program, at this moment in time, exacerbates the digital divide. It doesn't address it in any positive way."


The FCC is stopping 9 companies from providing federally subsidized Internet to the poor FCC is stopping 9 companies from providing subsidized Internet to the poor (Los Angeles Times)