The lifeline program is one of a kind communications technology initiative that has enable Americans belonging to low income households to afford and use mobile broadband as a means to stay connected and not to be left out by a communications blackout. As the communications technology has evolved it has brought along with it a hefty price tag that consumers with a better financial outlook can easily afford. But for low income families it is a totally different story.
The lifeline programs has developed carefully tailored broadband and other communication service packages to cater for the need of specific set of people. These packages although have their limits which are necessary to make this program viable. In 2016, standards for lifeline program were set by FCC with the intent that these would be upgraded on yearly basis but these updates cannot always be in the favor of its consumers and vice versa.
This initiative may sound new to some but it has its roots back in the mid 1980s when the lifeline program mainly consisted of access to cheap voice communication services such as a telephone. As the world has started to rely more on internet for information and awareness, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay away from the internet and still be a part of the modern fast paced world. Therefore, lifeline program is accessible to eligible individuals regardless of where they are located. This program is under the administrative control of USAC which is strictly governed by the framework devised by FCC. FCC’s mission is to provide affordable communications technology for all Americans.
It has been noted that recently Federal Communication Commission which is led by A. Pai has shown disagreement with how things were decided to be run back in 2016. FCC is now set to rethink those standards and they will also redesign the concept of yearly updates to a minimum standard. The revisions knowns as the Pai Proposal for Lifeline program states that the minimum limit for broadband package should be increased from the present 3 GB to 4.5 GB and to fix it there. This will consequently rule out the hope of this limit getting up to more than 11 GB on the basis of increased use on behalf of consumers.
Pai has argued that FCC monitors the lifeline program very closely and it is in the interest of the initiative as well as it the consumers who use it that the program stays viable. If the previously envisaged updated to the minimum standards is allowed then the limit would have surpassed 8 GB last year. This according to Pai would have affected the capability of FCC to keep lifeline practical, viable and affordable.
FCC contests their decision on the basis of well known facts that lifeline programs past is littered with fraud and corruption and the current decision has been made in the wake of those incidents. Services such as proof of still alive, identity verification, and unable to disburse commission for enrolling consumers to the programs are also part of the proposal present by Mr. Ajit Pai.