Trump’s pick to head the FCC—Ajit Pai—wants to reverse a standing order from Obama that subsidizes Internet services for low-income families. This move affects 17,500 customers, but the FCC isn’t without opposition.
Low-Income Internet Services
On February 3, the FCC started rolling back reform efforts under the Obama administration. These efforts include orders that let nine telecoms to give Lifeline services to low-income customers. But last Thursday, a coalition of 40 groups, comprising racial justice, labor, and digital rights groups, demanded that the FCC reverse the order from Ajit Pai that cancels internet subsidies.
Lifeline has provided discounted phone services for low-income families since 1985. Last year, the FCC expanded the program to include basic broadband access to the internet. The coalition argues that instead of canceling the order, the FCC should implement it faster and include even more services for low-income people.
In a letter to the FCC, the coalition wrote:
“Lifeline…is the only federal program poised to bring broadband to poor families across the US so that they can connect to jobs, complete their homework, and communicate with healthcare providers and emergency services.”
Ajit Pai has his proposals, which he claims can close the “digital divide” for low-income families. Such plans include using tax incentives to encourage companies to expand high-speed Internet in poor areas. Another area of concern is improving the telecoms’ infrastructure development.
Additionally, Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood shared some insight:
“Here’s how cost-benefit analysis works in the Trump administration and at the Pai FCC: If any favored lobby like the cable industry claims that rules cost them money, the agency will zap those rules—without any regard for their benefits.”
We can only wait to see what kind of impact this will have for low-income families in America. In any case, a Trump administration doesn’t bode well.