Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pai Defends Low-Income Internet Plan

Ajit Pai ( Morning Consult photo)
New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai defended himself on Tuesday following an uproar over the agency’s move last week to revoke the participation of nine service providers in a program that provides subsidized internet access to low-income households, according to The Hill.

In a blog post on Medium, Pai criticized the media coverage of the action, which he believes unfairly portrayed him as an opponent of expanding internet access to low-income Americans. Pai instead characterized pulling the companies from the program as a way to provide time for review.

“Hyperbolic headlines always attract more attention than mundane truths,” Pai wrote. “For example, a story detailing how the FCC was undertaking further review of the eligibility of 1% of Lifeline providers wouldn’t generate too many clicks.”

Lifeline is a program that provides low-income households with monthly credits originally to buy phone service and was expanded in 2016 to include internet access. Last week, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau announced that it was revoking nine companies’ status as service providers in the program.

Critics blasted the move as being unfair to those enrolled in Lifeline.

Mignon Clyburn, the sole Democrat on the FCC, also criticized Pai for announcing the action amid a flurry of other agency moves late on a Friday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Pai downplayed the significance of the move and insisted that he intended to work to expand internet access to underserved communities.

He wrote that the action only affected one percent of the more than 900 Lifeline providers, noting that the nine companies were allowed into the program just days before the new administration took over last month.

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