Senators take FCC’s Pai to task on recent Lifeline broadband move

Ajit Pai (FCC)
Forty-one senators have signed a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in response to the FCC revoking Lifeline Broadband Provider status to nine companies that provide broadband access to low-income households.

A group of U.S. senators have called on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to expand subsidized broadband internet access through the Lifeline program.

Signed by 41 senators, the letter was in response to the FCC revoking Lifeline Broadband Provider status to nine companies that provide broadband access to low-income households.

Spot On, Boomerang Wireless, KonaTel, FreedomPop, AR Designs, Kajeet, Liberty, Northland Cable, and Wabash Independent Networks were among the nine companies affected by Pai’s recent action.

The senators told Pai that “your action will hurt those in our country that need the most help.”

“By reversing the decision made by your predecessor, you are reducing, not expanding, Internet access,” the senators wrote. “We ask that you reconsider the Commission’s decision to remove the nine companies.”

RELATED: FCC’s Clyburn: Preventing 9 companies from providing subsidized service widens the digital divide

Following reports that emerged on his action, Pai said in a Medium.com post that various media outlets have caused confusion about what the FCC is doing with its Lifeline broadband applicants. 

Pai said that the action only impacted 9 of the 900 providers that take part in the Lifeline program, meaning that “99% of the companies participating in the program are not affected at all.”

He said that the applications of these nine providers to participate in the program have "not been rejected” and only “remain pending at the Commission.”

Pai is scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications on March 8.