1. On February 3, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reversed an earlier FCC decision to approve nine companies as eligible broadband providers under the federal Lifeline program, which provides low-income consumers with a monthly subsidy of $9.25 to help offset the cost of phone or internet service.
2. A week later, Pai quashed an internal report documenting the success of the multibillion dollar E-rate program (which) provides discounts on certain services and products that are essential for classrooms and libraries to receive Internet connections (discounts depend on the level of poverty and location). Discounts range from 20% to 90% of the cost of eligible services.
3. In late March, Pai announced that the FCC would relinquish responsibility for designating eligible Lifeline providers to states.
“Every student ought to be worried about that. And every school ought to be worried about that. Because suddenly, all of the information that goes across the network is available to be sold.
Let’s go back. So the first thing [the new administration did] was come in and pull back on the E-rate report. The second thing was make it harder [for companies to get designated as a Lifeline provider.] The third thing was gut the privacy protections. The fourth thing is the Trump administration proposes a budget that cuts back heavily on education. And we’re supposed to sit here and think that this is a benign environment?
The most important part of the Open Internet Rule was that we put a referee on the field. Because who knows how the internet is going to evolve? You need to have somebody there to throw a flag and say, “No, that’s not just and reasonable.”
I think the people who don’t support Lifeline in the first place, or don’t support E-rate in the first place, always go and hide behind the ‘waste, fraud and abuse’ smokescreen. I wish they had an agenda in which they were looking forward and saying, ‘Here’s some of the new opportunities and new challenges of the new connected society.’ Instead, they seem to be looking backwards and saying, ‘How do we undo everything we voted against when were in the minority?’”
A former liberal radio talk host who likes to ask the “follow-up question” at Democurmudgeon.blogspot.com
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