FCC's Lifeline overhaul sets fire to a bridge over the digital divide

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[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission took its first major step toward overhauling the controversial Lifeline program in a move that will punish not just low-income citizens but perhaps small, innovative service providers as well.  Yes, Lifeline was once teeming with fraud, waste and abuse. Yes, the program still has significant flaws. And yes, companies that fail to provide adequate services should be forever barred from Lifeline for preying on some of our most vulnerable citizens. But the 2016 reforms may be working well—we won’t know until we see more updated data—and existing failings can be analyzed and addressed individually as necessary. Instead, the FCC is opting to overhaul the system dramatically, slashing subsidies for some and moving to prevent the kinds of service providers that are ideally suited to serve low-income consumers, often in remote areas. The commission is intent on burning a crucial bridge across the digital divide with no promise of building a new one. 


FCC's Lifeline overhaul sets fire to a bridge over the digital divide