All posts tagged: Ajit Pai

Tribes Request Delay of Lifeline Changes Affecting Tribal Members

November 7, 2017 — Native Public Media responds to recent proposed Lifeline Program changes that will greatly impact areas that currently receive Enhanced Lifeline Tribal Support in a letter to the FCC.  A draft of the orders explaining the proposed changes to the Lifeline Program was released on October 26th, 2017 and the proposed rulings appear on the tentative agenda for the FCC’s November 16th, 2017 Open Meeting.

Tribal Response to FCC’s Proposed Lifeline Program Changes

Loris Taylor, President and CEO of the Native Public Media, Inc., urges the FCC to delay the Lifeline Program changes, stating the changes adversely effect many of the Tribal members who have access to Lifeline service because of the Enhanced Lifeline Tribal Support (“ELTS”) program, which the rulings would seek to revise.

In the letter, Taylor asserts that “the [Federal Communications] Commission has failed to provide notice and an opportunity to comment on these foregoing major changes or to support the changes with empirical justifications.

“The ETLS subsidy was adopted by the Commission in 2000 to remedy telecommunications and economic disparities throughout Indian Country. That disparity continues. The FCC’s 2016 Broadband Progress Support shows that Tribal lands still sorely lack access to advanced telecommunications services. The Order [WC Dkt. No. 17-287, et. al] will increase this disparity and severely undermine the overarching purpose of the ETLS program, which is to provide low-income consumers with vital communication services.”

Read the Full Response to FCC by Native Public Media

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Native-Public-Media-Lifeline-Ex-Parte.11.7.17.pdf”]

 

About Native Public Media

Native Public Media is a Hopi and Navajo Tribe-based organization that works to secure a voice for Native America among policy-making bodies and among the media democracy movement, promoting greater access and larger audiences for Native American voices.

Contact Native Public Media: [email protected]

More on FCC Changes

Read more on the FCC’s proposed changes to the Lifeline Program here.

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Lee SchaferTribes Request Delay of Lifeline Changes Affecting Tribal Members
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Lifeline Advocates Urge FCC to Reconsider Proposed Program Changes

On October 26th, the FCC published the upcoming November 16 public meeting agenda, which calls for some significant changes to the Lifeline Program, which provides affordable communication services to low-income Americans.  Advocates of the Lifeline Program are now voicing their concerns about some of the proposed rules, which will mainly aim to:

  • Direct Lifeline Funds & Enhanced Lifeline Support to Facilities-based Providers
  • Adopt a Self-enforcing Budget Cap
  • End States’ Role in Designating ETCs
  • Redefine Tribal Lands as Rural
  • Eliminate LBP Designations

Responses to FCC Proposals for Lifeline Program

Advocates of both the Lifeline Program and the FCC’s commitment to “bridge the digital divide” have expressed concern over many of the potential changes, and are seeking FCC reconsideration.

CTIA, an organization that represents the U.S. wireless communications industry (and the companies throughout the mobile ecosystem) that enable Americans to lead a 21st century connected life, voiced some of their concerns in a letter to Chairman Pai, yesterday:

“While CTIA remains committed to working with the Commission to strengthen the Lifeline program’s administration, some of the changes proposed in the draft Lifeline item would negatively impact millions of low-income consumers who rely on wireless supported Lifeline services. As the Commission moves forward an agenda designed to close the digital divide, CTIA urges the Commission to recognize that Lifeline, especially wireless Lifeline, remains a critical tool that enables low-income consumers to access 21st Century occupational, educational, health and public safety communications.”

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/CTIA-Lifeline-FCC-NPRM-NOI-Response-Letter-11082017.pdf”]

 

Additionally, NaLA has activated a task force of highly qualified industry experts and advocates, who are working hard to ensure the continuity of the Lifeline Program. This task force is charged with handling the outreach, communication, collaboration, and education required to inform lawmakers and constituents aware of the proposed changes and what they can do to support the program and protect the Lifeline Program participants.

NaLA Member and Lifeline Advocate Support

Our members and supporters have already begun efforts to protect the low-income Americans who participate in the Lifeline Program. Access to telecommunications services provided by this program connect low-income Americans with emergency services, employment, education, childcare, and healthcare.

NaLA appreciates its members contributions to this cause; donate now to assure the continuation of the Lifeline Program or read more on the FCC’s proposed changes.

About CTIA

CTIA vigorously advocates at all levels of government for policies that foster continued wireless innovation and investment. CTIA also coordinates the industry’s voluntary efforts to provide consumers with a variety of choices and information regarding their wireless products and services. CTIA also hosts educational events that promote the wireless industry and coordinates the industry’s efforts to provide consumers with a variety of choices and information regarding their wireless products and services as well as the industry’s voluntary best practices.

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Lee SchaferLifeline Advocates Urge FCC to Reconsider Proposed Program Changes
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Colville Tribe Responds to FCC Plans for Tribal Lifeline Funds

November 7, 2017 — The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CTCR) sent a response to the FCC, regarding recent changes that will soon be decided regarding the Lifeline Program changes, specifically the proposal to limit Tribal Lifeline Funds (and eventually all Lifeline funds) to facilities-based providers.

Dr. Michael E. Marchand, Chairman of the CTCR, writes “We [the CTCR] are especially disconcerted with the FCC’s proposal to eliminate resellers from the Tribal Lifeline program. Wireless resellers offering enhanced Tribal Lifeline service generate revenue for the Tier 1 service providers that can be invested to expand wireless infrastructure on Tribal lands, a crucial need for the Colville Tribes. Wireless resellers have developed specialized business models to connect with residents of our Reservation; resellers currently provide critically-needed Lifeline service to many low-income individuals on the Colville Reservation. If these companies are no longer permitted to provide Tribal Lifeline service, it will be difficult, and in many cases impossible, for members of the Colville Tribes to obtain affordable voice and broadband services.”

View Colville Indian Reservation Letter to FCC

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Colville-Confederated-Tribes-Lifeline-Ex-Parte.11.7.17.pdf”]

About the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation is an organization that was formed in 1972 to represent the Colville Tribes, and is federally-recognized in the United States. The governing body, the Colville Business Council, state their mission for the Reservation is to “establish policies which would improve the economic condition of the Confederated Tribes, its members and posterity, with emphasis toward the most efficient and effective development, preservation, and protection of the resources available, including human and renewable natural resources, resulting in minimum negative impacts upon the culture and traditions of enrolled members of the Colville Confederated Tribes” (Source: CTCR Website)

Support Lifeline Program or Read More on FCC Changes

NaLA appreciates contributions; donate now to assure the continuation of the Lifeline Program or read more on the FCC’s proposed changes.

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Lee SchaferColville Tribe Responds to FCC Plans for Tribal Lifeline Funds
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FCC Proposed Lifeline Changes Affect Tribal Areas

The proposed FCC changes to Tribal Lifeline were outlined by Chairman Pai in a recent release of the November 16 Public Meeting Agenda. The Agenda outlines the Chairman’s intentions for the Enhanced Tribal Funds that support bridging the digital divide on the Tribal lands in Oklahoma and Nevada.

FCC Proposes Limitations on Tribal Land Subsidies in Oklahoma and Nevada

The reduction of waste, fraud, and abuse of within the Lifeline program has been a frequent topic of discussion for the FCC under Chairman Pai. The announcement of a proposal for ‘serious reform’ of the program is focused on the limitation of the additional Tribal subsidies that still exist in states like Oklahoma and Nevada. These FCC changes to Tribal Lifeline will negatively impact low-income residents living in tribal areas.

Initially a program for increasing communications for rural, low-income Americans, the Lifeline Program has evolved to better assist under-served Americans. As seen by the FCC’s efforts to include broadband in the minimum service standard, it is increasingly realized that efforts to “bridge” the digital divide is no longer solely a matter of geography.

Reason for FCC Changes to Tribal Lifeline

Currently, designated Tribal Lands receive additional federal subsidies for bridging that digital divide. But even though the minimum standards of service continue to increase to build that bridge, he subsidy for non-tribal areas has remained unchanged at $9.25, while the subsidy for Tribal Lands has been reduced in some areas through revocation of the previous “Tribal” designation.

In a report released last June revealing the findings of a three-year investigation conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that identified areas of fraud, waste, and abuse within the program, and recommendations were given to the FCC to increase Federal safeguards. The GAO’s report did not identify the subsidies to Tribal areas as a source of concern for waste within the Program, however, initiatives such as the National Verifier and other various reform implementations have already begun or taken place, which address and improve many of the issues revealed but the GAO’s findings. In response to the report, Democrat, Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, added that “much of GAO’s investigation took place before the FCC adopted its latest reforms.”

The Lifeline Program has experienced much-needed reform in recent years to combat issues of waste, fraud, and abuse within the Lifeline Program; to this, Pallone pointed out that “As an Energy & Commerce Democratic Staff Report found last year, the FCC has already reined in a billion dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse that was allowed under Bush-era changes to the program.”

The FCC has been diligent to address issues within the Lifeline Program that compromise its integrity. There is some speculation Pai’s proposal regarding Tribal subsidies.

Opposition to Pai’s Proposal for FCC Changes to Tribal Lifeline

The opposition to Pai’s proposal are concerned about the removal of the added subsidies for Tribal Americans.

Pallone expressed his concern over the FCC proposed Lifeline changes from the current Chairman that will negatively affect those living on Tribal lands, adding that “Struggling families across the country depend on this program, this proposal would rip the phones from their hands […] This is another unfortunate example of the FCC trying to avoid congressional oversight when it chooses to act against the people it is sworn to help.”

Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss of The Benton Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting communication in the public interest, added comment in a statement about the proposal, that “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 FCC changes to Tribal Lifeline. 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.”

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Lee SchaferFCC Proposed Lifeline Changes Affect Tribal Areas
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FCC News: Broadband Service A Priority in Infrastructure Spending Bill

Making Broadband Service A Priority in the Infrastructure Spending Bill

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai spoke at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh last week, addressing his views on the importance that broadband become a priority in the infrastructure spending bill. His speech was one of many on a tour to share his broadband agenda in several cities, including Detroit and Cleveland.

In the digital age, I believe, our wired and wireless broadband networks are core components of our nation’s infrastructure.

FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai

Central to Pai’s message is the belief that access to broadband will increase economic opportunity for low-income Americans. His speech called for funds for broadband related projects to be administered through the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to “maximize the impact of these investments” and “minimize waste”. As the chairman continues toward efforts in expanding broadband access, he also aims to dismantle regulation that may hinder these initiatives.

Pai also emphasized that incentives should be put in place for broadband providers to bring connectivity to many overlooked rural communities. He urged Congress to include his proposal for Gigabit Opportunity Zones, which will offer tax incentives to these providers.

Source: https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/flip.it%2FA2yYwT-fcc-chairman-promises-broadband-for-all/f-26ffcd4bd9%2Fcnet.com

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Jordan AxtFCC News: Broadband Service A Priority in Infrastructure Spending Bill
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