Ajit Pai quietly changes landscape for low-income mobile subscribers before he departs

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has been extremely popular with the telecom companies he’s regulated for the last four years, but one corner of the industry will not be sad to see the chairman step down. The carriers that provide mobile service to the nation’s neediest citizens say Pai is trampling them on his way out the door while pulling critical service away from those hit hardest by this year’s economic downturn. Lifeline providers say an FCC order that took effect December 1 will force them to stop offering free data service to qualified low-income customers. In an order adopted without a vote by the full Commission, Pai has instituted a 50% increase in the minimum amount of data Lifeline providers must offer. Subscribers will now get a minimum of 4.5 GB of data per month, an increase that will be welcomed by those Lifeline customers who can get it. But carriers say many cannot.

Ajit Pai quietly changes landscape for low-income mobile subs before he departs