(credit: Free Press)
The Federal Communications Commission is dropping its legal defense of a new system for expanding broadband subsidies for poor people, and it will not approve applications from companies that want to offer the low-income broadband service.
The decision announced today by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai would halt implementation of last year’s expansion of the Lifeline program. This 32-year-old program gives poor people $9.25 a month toward communications services, and it was changed last year to support broadband in addition to phone service.
Pai’s decision won’t prevent Lifeline subsidies from being used toward broadband, but will make it harder for ISPs to gain approval to sell the subsidized plans. Last year’s decision enabled the FCC to approve new Lifeline Broadband Providers nationwide so that ISPs would not have to seek approval from each state’s government. Nine providers were approved under the new system late in former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s term, but Pai rescinded those approvals in February.
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