March 23, 2018 – Over 23 groups filed comments on the FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The NPRM comments filed were in response to the recent FCC Lifeline Proposals for the Lifeline Program. As the battle to protect the Lifeline Program continues, carriers and telecom companies were among the several who expressed their opinions on the FCC’s proposed rulings regarding the banning of wireless resellers from Lifeline and the effect of this ban on efforts to bridge the digital divide.
US Telecom and Comcast Support FCC Reseller Ban
Companies like US Telecom and Comcast support the Commission on updating the Lifeline program. “Multiple parties agreed with US Telecom that an appropriately structured audit framework will better target waste, fraud, and abuse in the program and would also utilize administrative resources more efficiently and effectively than in prior years,” US Telecom stated in their reply comment.
Those who oppose, believe that the implementation of the National Verifier is a much more effective focus for the Commission, and one that will not negatively impact low income Americans.
Other NPRM Comments Raise Concern on Negative Impact of Reseller Ban
While Comcast and US Telecom side with the Commission’s plan to update the Lifeline program, other carriers and companies, such as AARP, NACUA, and Greenlining Institute, echo comments like those filed by Sprint and TracFone, opposing Chairman Pai’s NRPM/NOI proposals for the Lifeline program.
These carries and companies agreed that the change will negatively affect the customers, and seem to oppose the true essence of the Lifeline Program, which is to provide affordable services for low income American families.
State and Local Opposition to FCC Lifeline
Other groups remain on the same page with protecting the consumers from being forgotten through the implementation of a reseller ban in Lifeline. City of Boston, Massachusetts, City of Los Angeles, California, City of Portland, Oregon and the Texas Coalition of Cities for Utility Issues all agree that the Lifeline Program should remain affordable.
“The cities agree with numerous commenters that Lifeline has always been, and must remain, an affordability program, not an infrastructure subsidy”, and that “the Commission should not utilize the Lifeline program to achieve a goal for which it is not designed.”
Filed Replies Totaling 23 NPRM Comments, Includes Pa. PUC
In total, 23 reply comments were submitted, and 9 groups fully opposed the reseller ban. Others either support the ban or have requests, like the Pa. PUC, who opposes the proposal, but stated that “ as long as consumers meet the Lifeline eligibility criteria and there is sufficient universal service funding for Lifeline, they should continue to receive Lifeline services, including access to the federal subsidy, without limitation as to the duration or current level of the benefit.”
Check out the reply comments here: