FCC Chairman Pai’s proposals on elimination of wireless resellers from the Lifeline Program has been opposed by large broadband companies, including Verizon and Sprint.
In response to Chairman Pai’s proposal, Verizon expressed their belief that the elimination of wireless resellers from the Lifeline Program goes against the purpose behind the Lifeline program, “which is to address affordability.” They said that “The proposed exclusion of resellers from the Lifeline program would be highly disruptive to existing Lifeline beneficiaries and is at odds with the Commission’s goal of supporting affordable voice telephony and high-speed broadband for low-income households.”
Sprint told the FCC that resellers are important in providing affordable service for low-income consumers. “The goal of ensuring that all Americans have reasonable and affordable access to advanced communications services can effectively be achieved by making federal Lifeline support available for broadband and voice Lifeline services generally, whether provided by a facilities-based carrier, or by a reseller.”
Critics of the reseller ban say that Pai’s proposal shows that the FCC’s concern is not the consumer, but for digital divide.
“In attempt to further FCC majority’s carriers first agenda, basic rules protect consumers during tech transitions are thrown out the door. When it comes to helping low-income Americans, FCC majority gets a failing grade,” Mignon Clyburn, commissioner of the FCC tweeted, but subsequently deleted. She also tweeted that the FCC is “focused on taking affordable phone and broadband service away from low-income Americans.
— Mignon Clyburn (@MClyburnFCC) February 22, 2018
The conversation about the reseller ban is intense, but the FCC has not finalized Pai’s proposal.The deadline for filing initial comments on the plan passed on February 21, and the deadline for reply comments is March 23. If Pai follows through on the plan after the comment period, the full commission would vote on it.