Nov 17, 2017

Pai's limited contact with recipients of the subsidies he plans to cut

The FCC on Thursday voted to seek comment on a plan that would significantly limit the Lifeline program that subsidizes phone and internet service for low-income people. I asked FCC Chairman Ajit Pai how many conversations he's had with Lifeline subscribers. Here's what he said:

"Gosh, I'm trying to think. Several — I can't think of — I obviously didn't ask them when I met with them, 'Are you a Lifeline subscriber?' We have had conversations in places like Mission, South Dakota and in Flagstaff on the outskirts of Reno. A great number of them, I would think."

Why it matters: Decisions affecting the Lifeline program are one of the few areas of tech policy that have a direct impact on millions of consumers who draw on its subsidies to access modern communications.

What the FCC says: We asked the FCC to clarify Pai's comments. "Throughout his travels around the country focusing on the digital divide, Chairman Pai has met and spoken with many Americans ranging from Tribal reservations to a school in a low-income neighborhood in California," answered a spokesperson. "During his visits, however, he does not ask people whether they participate in the Lifeline program."

This post has been corrected to reflect that Pai said "think of," not "think off." We regret the error.

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