All posts tagged: Rulings

56 Congress Members Sign Letter To FCC Opposing November 16 Lifeline Program Changes

KENNETT SQUARE, PA–(Marketwired – Nov 16, 2017) The National Lifeline Association (Referred to as “NaLA”) reports that 56 members of Congress have signed and delivered a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai opposing changes to the Lifeline Program which attack low-income families, Veterans, and Native American Tribes.

Press-Release-56-House-Democrats-Sign-Congressional-Lifeline-Letter-to-FCC-on-Lifeline-Changes

The Lifeline Program was created 30 years ago by President Reagan to help ensure that the most vulnerable Americans – which include low-income families, Veterans, and Native Americans – have access to lifesaving communications services. The program was updated and reformed under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to accommodate for technological advances and to strengthen the program’s integrity by minimizing fraud, waste, and abuse.

The program currently provides a modest monthly subsidy of $9.25 from Universal Service Funds, to connect low-income Americans with telephone and internet services.

Proposed changes by the FCC to the Lifeline Program include:

  • Major cuts and budget caps on the Lifeline program, which may shrink the size of all recipient benefits
  • Lifetime cap on individual users which could inflict arbitrary limits on participation and completely cut off those in need
  • Ban “non-facilities-based providers” from participating in the Lifeline Program

The following statement may be attributed to David Dorwart, Chairman of NaLA. “By banning ‘non-facilities-based providers’ from participating in the Lifeline program, 80% of the top Lifeline providers will be forced to stop service, resulting in disconnections for approximately 7.5 million Lifeline recipients nationwide. In some areas of the country, these are the only providers that offer Lifeline service. As a result, as many as three quarters of the current Lifeline subscriber base will be stripped of this crucial service, including over 1.3 million active and retired Veterans and more than half of all current Tribal Lifeline subscribers.”

If ultimately adopted, Chairman Pai’s proposals would roll back the United States’ longstanding commitment that advanced telecommunications services should be universally available to and affordable for all Americans. According to Public Knowledge, “The Chairman’s plan would strand millions of low-income families, Veterans, and children without affordable communications services, and drastically curtail their access to the education, job training, and basic services that increasingly require an internet connection. Rather than moving forward with this plan that would harm the most vulnerable, the FCC should refocus its efforts to promote affordable, competitive broadband for all Americans, and ensure that the Lifeline program remains a core component of our efforts to close the digital divide.”

Read the Congressional letter in its entirety:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/final_Meeks-Moore-Lifeline-Letter.pdf”]


Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, stated,
“In our modern, highly technological and interconnected world, internet and phone service are all but required to lead a functional life. Many Americans still don’t have phone and internet access, rendering it nearly impossible to complete everyday tasks, such as finishing assigned schoolwork or conducting a phone interview. He also stated, “The digital divide—which Chairman Pai promised he would seek to minimize—persists today and the Lifeline Program is critical in helping minimize it. Yet, Chairman Pai’s proposed changes would practically decimate the Lifeline program, upon which millions of Americans rely. Indeed, this is nothing more than a poorly disguised attack on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. I thank Congresswoman Moore and the cosigners and endorsing organizations of this letter for partnering with me to stand against Chairman Pai’s efforts to widen the digital divide.”

Organizations endorsing the congressional letter opposing changes to the Lifeline Program include: National Lifeline Association (NaLA), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Public Knowledge, Free Press, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Benton Foundation, Greenlining Institute, United Church of Christ, Common Sense Kids Action, National Consumer Law Center, The Utility Reform Network, OpenMedia, OCA- Asian Pacific American Advocates, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Appalshop, Inc.

The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) takes the position that these proposed changes will widen the digital divide facing low-income Americans and are unnecessary given successful reforms to the Lifeline Program, including the December 2017 launch of the National Verifier. Because Lifeline accounts for less than 20% of the allocations to the Universal Service Fund (source: 2016 USAC Annual Budget) and is currently running at about $1 billion a year below its budget, steps aimed at reducing the program’s budget, participation levels and disbursements are indefensible.

About The National Lifeline Association (NaLA):

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the 4 essential components of Lifeline: ETCs & Providers, Distributors, Lifeline Supporters & Participants, and Government & Regulatory Bodies. We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program and we drive this vision through our mission to “support providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

NaLA’s Vision: “In America, every person should have access to essential communication services.”

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Lee Schafer56 Congress Members Sign Letter To FCC Opposing November 16 Lifeline Program Changes
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Free Press Opposes FCC Lifeline Rulings, “A Direct Attack” on Low-Income Americans

Free Press opposes FCC Lifeline Rulings that will affect the Lifeline Program, a program that connects low-income Americans to crucial communications services. The proposed changes were released October 26th in a draft by Chairman Pai and the current FCC administration to be a part of the November 16 Open Meeting agenda and would greatly eliminate the access to service for many low-income families in the United States.

Free Press Opposes FCC Lifeline Rulings that Limit Lifeline Funds to Facilities-Based Providers

Free Press has addressed their opposition to the rulings, including their major concern with the proposal to limit funds to “facilities-based” providers, which will eliminate Lifeline resellers (also known as ETCs) from providing Lifeline service.

Free Press Policy Director, Matthew Wood, urges the FCC to reconsider, asserting that “..eliminating resale carriers [Lifeline resellers] from Lifeline would eliminate participation by providers currently serving no less than two-thirds or even three ­quarters of the current Lifeline subscriber base. Chairman Pai’s war on carriers that actually make robust use of the fund is of course a direct attack on the intended beneficiaries of the program: low-income individuals and families, all too often from traditionally under-served groups such as people of color, immigrants, veterans, and the elderly.”

Read More from Free Press on FCC Lifeline Rulings

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/FreePress-Ex-Parte-Letter-to-FCC-on-Lifeline-Changes-Eliinating-Resellers-1.pdf”]

About Free Press

Free Press is an independent organization that believes that change happens when people have a real voice in the political process; they seek to mobilize their growing base of 900,000 activists to sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, attend rallies and town-hall meetings, write letters to the editor, and take part in other targeted actions. Additionally, the organization crafts policy proposals, conducts research, testifies before Congress and fights in court for policies that serve the public interest.

Support Lifeline Program or Read More on FCC Changes

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

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Lee SchaferFree Press Opposes FCC Lifeline Rulings, “A Direct Attack” on Low-Income Americans
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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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