FCC to Reverse Rules on TV Station Purchases

And the Federal Communications Commission under Trump-appointed chairman Ajit Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, has moved to rapidly to undo rules and decisions that major telecommunications carriers oppose.

The new Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission plans to let states decide which telecom providers can divvy out phone and internet subsidies to poor Americans.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai stated that he was switching the approval process for the Lifeline program from the federal government to the state.

Currently, more than 3.5 million Americans are receiving subsidized broadband through Lifeline from 259 eligible providers, Pai said in today's statement. As a result, shoveling more oversight to the States and away from the FCC is seen by critics as an attempt to give ISPs more control over how these funds are spent - with a particular eye on ensuring that the government isn't strengthening potential competition in the market.

Several people, including Flood, told us no state now has a regulatory structure in place to approve LifeLine providers for broadband-only service, and an FCC spokesperson confirmed this.

When defending his decision to revoke Lifeline approvals for the nine companies, Pai said last month that over 900 Lifeline providers were not affected.

More than 3.5 million Americans are now receiving subsidized broadband through Lifeline from 259 eligible providers, Pai said in the statement.

At the time, Pai reasoned the commission had to stop the expansion of the broadband portion of the Lifeline program to examine abuse and fraud within the system. The Chairman's action is inconsistent with the record the Bureau has compiled and places providers that have in good faith applied for Lifeline Broadband Provider status in limbo for the foreseeable future.

About 99.6 percent of Americans who get subsidized broadband through Lifeline buy it from one of the companies that received certification "through a lawful process", Pai wrote.

As we have previously described, the LBP designation process was adopted by the FCC, in the Lifeline Modernization Order, in an effort to encourage market entry and increase competition among Lifeline providers.

Pai's decision on Wednesday prompted swift backlash from Democrats.

Your choice in Lifeline subsidized broadband services might be limited given a recent FCC rule change.

The FCC had an opportunity to fix Lifeline previous year when it expanded the program to cover broadband internet access.

In 2015, President Obama had announced a Connect Home initiative to launch in 27 cities to expand high-speed broadband to 275,000 low-income families and almost 200,000 children across the U.S. as part of the overall Connect America Fund. Yesterday's announcements were not surprising in that they are consistent with his consistent views on the states' role in the Lifeline program.

  • Zachary Reyes