Contact: Adrianne B. Furniss
Pai Lifeline Proposal is Sad for Anyone Who Believes in Truly Universal Service
Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed changes to the Lifeline program, which makes telecommunications services, including internet access, more affordable for low-income households. The following may be attributed to Benton Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss:
Intended initially as a mechanism to reduce the cost of phone service for low-income customers, the bipartisan Lifeline program has worked in lockstep with telephone providers and consumers to increase the uptake in phone service throughout the country and has kept pace with changes in technology as the U.S. moved from a wireline world to one where the number of mobile devices and services now exceeds the population to a recognition that broadband internet is an essential communications service. Unfortunately, Chairman Pai’s proposal turns America’s back on our commitment, enshrined in law, to make sure world-class telecommunications are available and affordable for all. By nick and hack, Pai is gutting the only Universal Service Fund program that directly benefits consumers instead of carriers. His changes will mean fewer low-income households are served by fewer competitive options.
At the very least, we hope that the FCC will take the time to do an economic analysis around the impact of the proposed changes. Many, many Lifeline recipients are U.S. veterans who fought for our flag. Chairman Pai appears to be waiving the white flag of surrender for their connected future.
This is a sad day for anyone who believes in truly universal service.