Consumer, Rural And Native American Voices Speak Out Against FCC Chair’s Plan To “Effectively Destroy” Lifeline Program For Poor (PRNewsfoto/Consumer Action)
Published November 22, 2017
WASHINGTON – In yet another measure taken by the Trump administration to overturn an Obama administration action, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted a 3-2 split to rollback Lifeline, the technology service used to provide phone and Internet access to low-income family homes.
While some of the details of the cutbacks are still being developed, the FCC issued an order last week that will cut a $25 subsidy for American Indians living on tribal lands within the next 90 days. Some 500,000 American Indians on tribal lands subscribe to the internet using the Lifeline program.
Noting that wireless Lifeline in most tribal lands will end, Joe RedCloud, former chairman, Oglala Sioux Tribe Utility Commission, said: “The importance of the Tribal Lifeline program for residents of Tribal lands, including the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, cannot be overstated. The FCC has long recognized the vital role of the Tribal Lifeline program in making telecommunications services affordable on Tribal lands. But, in a proposal to be voted on by the Commissioners on November 16th, the FCC, without consultation with the Tribes, is going to essentially eliminate Lifeline service on many Tribal lands. This would be a travesty for Indian Country because it would turn back the clock to the days of the monopoly provision of Lifeline service where consumers had but one choice for affordable telephone service …”
“The situation is even more dire on other reservations in South Dakota where there are no facilities-based wireless Lifeline providers on seven of the eight other reservations, which is typical of most Tribal lands throughout the United States. Clearly, creating a significant disadvantage for wireless resellers from the Tribal Lifeline market will gravely harm, not advance, universal Lifeline service on Tribal lands,” RedCloud continued.