FCC solicits comments on broadband subsidy program

FCC solicits comments on broadband subsidy program
© Greg Nash

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is asking the public for comment on a recent decision to revoke nine companies’ participation in a subsidy program designed to help low-income households gain internet access.

Last month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai revoked the providers’ approval to join the Lifeline program, which his Democratic predecessor had granted.

Pai, a Republican that was tapped to take over the chairmanship after President Trump took office, was criticized for the move by Lifeline supporters, who argue that it would discourage other companies from trying to join the program.

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A coalition of advocacy groups — including the NAACP, Free Press and the American Library Association — filed a petition last month asking the agency to reconsider the move, and on Thursday the FCC began soliciting comments from the public.

“If Chairman Pai is serious about bridging the digital divide, this is a good first step toward making amends,” Jessica Gonzalez, senior counsel at Free Press, said in a statement. “Once the comments come in, Pai should overturn his bureau’s action rescinding these Lifeline Broadband Provider designations.”

The public has until March 16 to submit comments.