FCC votes in favor of allowing Lifeline low-income subsidies for Internet plans

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2015
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3 to 2 in favor of extending the U.S. government's Lifeline program to offer subsidies for broadband Internet, and not just basic phone service.




The vote was split along party lines, with Democrats in favor, Bloomberg reported. In a statement, the FCC noted that poorer Americans are often dependent on phones for Internet access, and not being able to cover a data plan creates a disadvantage when trying to use services like banking and healthcare.

The changes were proposed by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who is also working to address concerns about fraud. One Republican commissioner, Ajit Pai, complained that "waste, fraud and abuse are still rampant" in Lifeline. In 2014, three people were indicted for defrauding Lifeline of $32 million between September 2009 and March 2011.

A variety of anti-fraud measures have been enacted since 2012, including crosschecks to stop households from claiming more than one subsidy. Some reform measures have yet to be implemented, but Wheeler's proposal will likely bring further rules into effect.

One party backing the extension of Lifeline is the CTIA, a cellular industry association whose members -- such as AT&T and Verizon -- benefit financially from the program. In 2013, for instance, $430.3 million went to TracFone parent company America Movil. $320 milion went to Sprint, and $153.3 million went to AT&T. Verizon ranked ninth, with $59 million.

That year Lifeline users dropped from 17.2 million to 14.5 million, however. Between 2012 and 2014, total government spending on Lifeline fell from $2.2 billion to $1.6 billion.

Lifeline recipients receive very little money for phone service, currently just $9.25 a month. The FCC could have to raise that amount to meaningfully help with data plans.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,656member

    I am against this. Broadband internet is not a human right.

  • Reply 2 of 70
    My cell phone bill went up last month. Why? Tripling of federal taxes.

    So kind of them. It would have been worse but AZ taxes dropped at the same time.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    konqerrorkonqerror Posts: 685member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post



    My cell phone bill went up last month. Why? Tripling of federal taxes.

     

    Remember, the Universal Service Fund is not a tax. It's a mandatory percentage assessment on carrier gross revenues. But it's not a tax. So read their lips, no new taxes.

  • Reply 4 of 70
    konqerror wrote: »
    Remember, the Universal Service Fund is not a tax. It's a mandatory percentage assessment on carrier gross revenues. But it's not a tax. So read their lips, no new taxes.

    Perhaps CJ Roberts can tell us it's a tax. :lol:
  • Reply 5 of 70
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,035member
    Lifeline is absurd to begin with. We're dealing with a cultural and political mentality that is so ass backwards: The more people dependent on government programs, the better. In fact, just the opposite is true.
  • Reply 6 of 70
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Banking, healthcare, communicating with friends who support you--and JOB SEARCHING. All vital, all VERY difficult if you have wait hours for a bus to a library to even begin. I have a friend who fell on hard times due to caring for a dying parent (coupled with predatory loans when she got her degree) and she's a clear example of how broadband (nothing fancy, just usable) can be a necessity to get back on your feet. More so even than speaking on the phone, these days.

    Communication changes through history. Lifelines must change too. Hope you never need one.

    All the people who think there should be no help for anyone in need... I bet they'd take the help when THEY need it.
  • Reply 7 of 70
    adrayvenadrayven Posts: 460member
    Normally I'd be against this.. or was.. Until I realized that even local state Governments are making many medicare and social security services accessible via the internet only. Then, realize that just jobs are posted internet only now, so job hunting requires the internet now. It's becoming harder and harder to find things that don't, in some form, require the internet.

    My grandmother couldn't even get onto the new health system w/o internet. So, yeah, saw this coming..

    That said, this shouldn't be blazing speed internet.. only the most basic to get access to necessary services and browsing/email.. Want more, get some income and pay for it yourselves.
  • Reply 8 of 70
    schlackschlack Posts: 693member
    isn't this what public libraries are for? for everyone to have access to the internet?

    or does everyone need to be able to watch youtube videos in HD in their home?
  • Reply 9 of 70
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,656member

    Some subscribers may notice a “Universal Service” line item on their telephone bills. This line item appears when a company chooses to recover its USF contributions directly from its customers by billing them this charge. The FCC does not require this charge to be passed on to customers. Each company makes a business decision about whether and how to assess charges to recover its Universal Service costs.

     

    Is there any company that does not pass on this "Universal Service" charge to their customers?

  • Reply 10 of 70
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,656member

    This program has been around for a long time, but it's exploded under Obama and has gotten out of control, with massive fraud and people cheating the system. Just say no to Obamaphones and also no to any Obamabroadband! I don't care about poor people or fraudsters! There's too many of them now.

     

    Pai said the Lifeline program grew by nearly 102 percent since January 2009, compared to the program’s 3 percent growth during former President George W. Bush’s administration.

     

    http://watchdog.org/161910/obama-phone-fraud/

  • Reply 11 of 70
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,656member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post



    All the people who think there should be no help for anyone in need... I bet they'd take the help when THEY need it.

     

    I see the shopping carts of fat people with children in tow who pay with their items using foodstamps, and their carts are filled with items like ice cream, potato chips, sodas. These people are not in need, and if they need a phone or the internet, then they can easily scrape together the money if it was important to them. Let them go without buying a $200 pair of sneakers, I'm sure that they can make that sacrifice.

  • Reply 12 of 70
    netroxnetrox Posts: 740member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

     

    This program has been around for a long time, but it's exploded under Obama and has gotten out of control, with massive fraud and people cheating the system. Just say no to Obamaphones and also no to any Obamabroadband! I don't care about poor people or fraudsters! There's too many of them now.

     

    Pai said the Lifeline program grew by nearly 102 percent since January 2009, compared to the program’s 3 percent growth during former President George W. Bush’s administration.

     

    http://watchdog.org/161910/obama-phone-fraud/


     

    You totally lose your crediblity. There is no such a thing as Obamaphone. It's a political motivated term. 

     

    The sudden increase is simply due to the fact that more jobs and more places demand you have it. 

     

    http://www.factcheck.org/2009/10/the-obama-phone/

  • Reply 13 of 70
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,656member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by netrox View Post

     

     

    You totally lose your crediblity. There is no such a thing as Obamaphone. It's a political motivated term. 

     

    The sudden increase is simply due to the fact that more jobs and more places demand you have it. 

     

    http://www.factcheck.org/2009/10/the-obama-phone/




    It was coined by an Obama voter! That is the origin of the phrase.

  • Reply 14 of 70
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,886member

    Imagine if they lowered library taxes to cover the cost of this. Hah.

    I'm going to petition my library to halve the size of their computer area.

  • Reply 15 of 70
    kent909kent909 Posts: 709member
    As many have pointed out that access to the Internet has become a necessity. The actual cost to each tax paying American is miniscule and not really worth complaining about. I am always amused how people use things like this to point out the failings of the government or a particular political party or politician. To point out a real economic problem, a couple of years ago I had major surgery and just the hospital bill for 5 days was $198,000. Who would have thought 5 days in the hospital would cost more than a 4 year degree at Stanford. God forbid we subsidize broadband. It is not economically sustainable. This should get the anti ACA people all lathered up.
  • Reply 16 of 70
    kent909kent909 Posts: 709member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

     

     

    I see the shopping carts of fat people with children in tow who pay with their items using foodstamps, and their carts are filled with items like ice cream, potato chips, sodas. These people are not in need, and if they need a phone or the internet, then they can easily scrape together the money if it was important to them. Let them go without buying a $200 pair of sneakers, I'm sure that they can make that sacrifice.


    Strangest thing. Last time I was at Wal-mart everyone walking around the store or checking out had a $200 pair of sneakers in their basket. Weird.

  • Reply 17 of 70
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,656member

    And here's the bright and very articulate woman and typical Obama voter who can claim credit for coining the term "Obamaphone".

     

    Original Obamaphone Lady: Obama Voter Says Vote for Obama because he gives a free Phone

     

  • Reply 18 of 70
    kent909kent909 Posts: 709member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mike1 View Post

     

    Imagine if they lowered library taxes to cover the cost of this. Hah.

    I'm going to petition my library to halve the size of their computer area.


    Library taxes are local taxes not federal. I am sure it was fun to say it anyway.

  • Reply 19 of 70
    kent909kent909 Posts: 709member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

     

    And here's the bright and very articulate woman and typical Obama voter who can claim credit for coining the term "Obamaphone".

     

    Original Obamaphone Lady: Obama Voter Says Vote for Obama because he gives a free Phone

     


    Here we are three years later keeping the term alive because some woman in Cleveland said it. Wow, are we pathetic or what?

  • Reply 20 of 70
    kent909 wrote: »
    Library taxes are local taxes not federal. I am sure it was fun to say it anyway.
    The point is valid regardless. If we're subsidizing poor people's internet at the federal level we don't also need to do so at the local level. How is that point lost on you?
Sign In or Register to comment.