For 25 years, the FCC has pushed a Lifeline program that helps low-income families in the U.S. have access to telephone services. Recently, the Commission announced an update to the program that also calls for a way to bring high-speed Internet access to this same group.
The problem, as Larry Downes, a Senior Adjunct Fellow at TechFreedom, explains to us, is that the program is full of fraud and abuse. The program’s original intention was good but, since there was no cap, anyone who was eligible applied for service. As a result, the program grew and grew but had no checks and balances.
Now, the FCC says that is now going to audit the program and projects that it will save $3 billion. With this savings, it plans to initiate a pilot program to bring broadband to eligible participants.
However, Downes told us that the FCC doesn’t have the authority to this. In addition, the agency is beginning its broadband plan before its checks and balances are implemented. Downes is concerned that the FCC will have already spent the money before it finds out if its reforms are adequate.
Although the FCC released its order this week, it could potentially be reversed if a group or party tries to challenge it.