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Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai revoked the Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) status of nine broadband providers that had previously been granted LBP status to provide essential connectivity to low-income households under the Commission’s modernized Lifeline program.
Chairman Pai’s action reverses decisions made under Chairman Tom Wheeler, and reduces the number of broadband providers able to provide subsidized broadband service to poor families.
The following statement can be attributed to Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel:
“Last year, the FCC took the historic step of modernizing the Reagan-era Lifeline program to ensure that America’s commitment to universal service includes broadband -- the crucial communications platform of the 21st century.
“Today, Chairman Pai revoked the ability of nine broadband providers to provide Lifeline-supported service to low-income families. The Chairman’s arbitrary decision will likely result in needy families losing access to the critical connectivity they use to communicate with loved ones, look for employment, complete homework assignments, access vital health care information, and engage in civic life.
“Broadband is now an essential service in the U.S., and necessary for basic communications. However, there are too few choices for consumers, and the cost of high-speed internet is unaffordable for millions of families. Less than two weeks ago, Chairman Pai committed that his leadership of the FCC would focus on closing the digital divide. Today, he has reneged on that commitment and signaled that the FCC might now be actively hostile toward small, competitive broadband providers and affordable access, which would exacerbate the digital divide.”