Nov 16, 2017

FCC moves forward on limiting program for low-income phone, internet access

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at an open meeting earlier this year. Photo: Robin Groulx/Axios

The FCC's Republican majority moved forward Thursday — over the objection of the agency's two Democrats — with a proposal to limit the Lifeline subsidy program providing phone and internet service to low-income people.

Why it matters: The vote is preliminary, but should the agency move forward with the plan, it would change a program used by millions.

The details:

  • The agency voted to limit a higher subsidy, offered on tribal lands, only to providers that own their own network infrastructure, as opposed to the many providers that rent it.
  • It will also formally consider whether to apply that policy across the entire Lifeline program and cap the program's spending. A second vote is required for those to take action.

What they're saying: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that his plan would encourage companies to build physical networks in areas they've previously ignored and cut down on waste in the program.

The other side: Advocates who back the way the program currently operates say Pai's plan will eliminate the providers for the vast majority of Lifeline subscribers. Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said his proposal was "devoid of promise and empathy."

Go deeper

Trump threatens to "assume control" of Minneapolis over unrest

Flames from a nearby fire illuminate protesters standing on a barricade in front of the Third Police Precinct in Minneapolis on Thursday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump threatened via Twitter early Friday to send the national guard to Minneapolis following three days of massive demonstrations and unrest in the city over George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody this week.

Details: "I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right," Trump tweeted after a police station was torched by some protesters.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protests over George Floyd's death grip Minneapolis

Protesters cheer as the Third Police Precinct burns behind them on in Minneapolis on Thursday night. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Cheering protesters set a Minneapolis police station on fire Thursday night in the third night of unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in the city, per AP.

The state of play: Minnesota's governor on Thursday activated the state's national guard following violent outbreaks throughout the week, as the nation waits to see if the officers involved will be charged with murder.

Updated 6 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has a single novel coronavirus case after reporting a week of no new infections, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday local time.

By the numbers: Nearly 6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2.3 million have recovered from the virus. Over 357,000 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.6 million.