Setting the Record Straight on the Digital Divide 888011000110888 In my first remarks as Chairman of the Federal Marketing communications Commission to the agency’s terrific employees, I stressed that one of my top priorities would be to close the particular digital divide — the distance between “those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who never. ” I’ve explored that separate for myself in places like Barrow, Alaska; Los Angeles, California; Clay, Western Virginia; and many more places. Now that I’m at the helm of the agency, I’m determined to address it. We’ve already hit the ground working. In the first vote under my Chairmanship, I worked with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Charles Schumer, Representative Chris Collins, and other officials in order to direct $170 million in federal government funding to build out broadband within upstate New York to places which are currently unserved. Within the second week of my Chairmanship, I shared with my colleagues make votes for February 23 on two detailed proposals for closing the electronic divide. One of them would direct vast amounts of dollars — with a “b” — over a decade toward making sure that almost all parts of this country have 4-G LTE coverage. (Currently, there are too many gaps where your phone shows “No Service” — as I noticed for myself during a recent generate from Wichita, Kansas to Kklk Moines, Iowa. ) The other might allocate nearly $2 billion — again with a “b” — pertaining to advancing fixed broadband service across the nation. With more connectivity, more Americans than in the past will have digital opportunity. Finally, I’ve engaged with Users of Congress about my proposal regarding Gigabit Opportunity Zones. Under this infrastructure plan, the government would make use of tax incentives to encourage the deployment of ultra-fast broadband in lower-income areas as small as an urban city block and as large like a rural county. It would also motivate entrepreneurs to take advantage of these next-generation networks by creating jobs in those areas. Gigabit Opportunity Areas and specific zones would enable Americans to become participants in, rather than spectators of, the digital economy. They would be a effective solution to the digital divide. I hope our elected officials will give the idea serious consideration. * * * Simultaneously, one recent FCC decision provides caused some controversy of late. Particularly, some have asked why the agency’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued an order reconsidering nine companies’ eligibility to participate in the Lifeline program, which aims to help make voice and broadband more affordable to low-income Americans. It’s vital that low-income Americans have access to communications services, including broadband Internet, which usually Lifeline helps to achieve. Unfortunately, many of the media headlines have got sensationalized this story and provided some an entirely misleading impression of what is going on. Indeed, based on the some of the insurance coverage, one would think that we had ended Lifeline broadband subsidies altogether. So I want to set the record straight in regards to the modest steps we have taken plus why we have taken them. First , the action only impacted 9 from the over 900 providers participating in the particular Lifeline program. In other words, 99% of the companies participating in the program are certainly not affected at all. Second , the applications of these nine providers to participate in the program have not been rejected. They simply remain pending at the Commission. Third , all but among the newly designated providers covered by the order do not yet have any customers. Fourth , the prior FCC disregarded the well-established process regarding approving applications like these. As the Nationwide Tribal Telecommunications Association pointed out, several of the providers had never coordinated their applications with Tribes, regardless of an FCC rule clearly requiring them to do so. These Tribal associates thus requested that the designations end up being reversed. Moreover, two of the designated providers were approved in the middle of the 30-day period for public comment — that is, before the public even had a chance to weigh in over the designation. Whatever one thinks of the value of these applications, that was plainly incorrect. Fifth , many of these designations were approved within the last days of the last Administration (two times before Inauguration Day), over the arguments of two of the four Commissioners, despite the fact that the FCC’s congressional oversight committees had requested that the Fee not take controversial actions during the changeover between Administrations (consistent with the request from those same committees throughout the Republican-to-Democrat transition in 2008–09). Thus, a majority of Commissioners never supported authorization of these designations. Sixth , every dollar that is spent on subsidizing somebody who doesn’t need the help by definition will not go to someone who does. That means that the Commission needs to make sure that there are strong safeguards against waste, fraud, and abuse before expanding the program in order to new providers. But consider: The National Verifier — which is a new database that is intended to verify eligibility to participate in the Lifeline program — does not currently exist and will not start operating until the end of 2017. Further, it is not scheduled to cover just about all states until 2019. My investigation last year into these matters revealed serious weaknesses in federal shields, allowing providers to indiscriminately override checks that are supposed to prevent wasteful and fraudulent activities. (These bank checks include common-sense steps like confirming the identity of would-be Personal assistant recipients. ) From October 2014 until June 2016, wireless resellers had overridden such safeguards 4, 291, 647 times in total. The investigation also uncovered some other loopholes, including one that let a business claim subsidies for approximately 22, 1000 phantom subscribers each month in the condition of Michigan. Seventh and finally, there is a serious question as to whether the FCC has the legal authority to specify Lifeline providers or whether this kind of designations must be made by state government authorities, as has long been the norm. Indeed, some time before the prior FCC issued these last-minute designations, state regulatory agencies got filed a substantial legal challenge to the entire process of the FCC designating Lifeline Broadband Providers, arguing that will it’s unlawful, and the FCC itself recently asked the court for more time to consider this issue. For instance, Area 214 of the Communications Act explicitly says that states must make designations intended for purposes of allowing companies to receive Lifeline subsidies. The FCC has frequently, and for many years, recognized states’ major role in this area. By preempting the particular states’ role in certification, the particular federal designations appear to run afoul of this legal framework. Putting the particular designations on hold gives the FCC the chance to make sure the process is lawfully defensible and to avoid potentially stranding customers if the courts ultimately consider the process unlawful. Hyperbolic headlines always attract more interest than mundane truths. For example , a tale detailing how the FCC was starting further review of the eligibility associated with 1% of Lifeline providers wouldn’t generate too many clicks. That’s always been the case in policy debates, obviously. But at the end of the day, my focus continues to be — and will continue to be so long as I use the privilege of serving as the Chairman of the FCC — performing everything within the FCC’s power to close up the digital divide. I am dedicated, both by belief and by regulation, to ensuring that the agency is focused over the 21st century version of our 20th one hundred year charge: “to make available, so far as feasible, to all the people of the United States, without splendour on the basis of race, color, religion, nationwide origin, or sex, a rapid, effective, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges. ” We’ve made progress over the past couple weeks, and we’ll do more in the time to come to benefit all Americans. Take note: This article was originally posted on Medium. com

February 7, 2017 : 12: 45 pm

Ajit Pai | FCC Chairman

In my…


No Responses to “Setting the Record Straight on the Digital Divide 888011000110888 In my first remarks as Chairman of the Federal Marketing communications Commission to the agency’s terrific employees, I stressed that one of my top priorities would be to close the particular digital divide — the distance between “those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who never. ” I’ve explored that separate for myself in places like Barrow, Alaska; Los Angeles, California; Clay, Western Virginia; and many more places. Now that I’m at the helm of the agency, I’m determined to address it. We’ve already hit the ground working. In the first vote under my Chairmanship, I worked with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Charles Schumer, Representative Chris Collins, and other officials in order to direct $170 million in federal government funding to build out broadband within upstate New York to places which are currently unserved. Within the second week of my Chairmanship, I shared with my colleagues make votes for February 23 on two detailed proposals for closing the electronic divide. One of them would direct vast amounts of dollars — with a “b” — over a decade toward making sure that almost all parts of this country have 4-G LTE coverage. (Currently, there are too many gaps where your phone shows “No Service” — as I noticed for myself during a recent generate from Wichita, Kansas to Kklk Moines, Iowa. ) The other might allocate nearly $2 billion — again with a “b” — pertaining to advancing fixed broadband service across the nation. With more connectivity, more Americans than in the past will have digital opportunity. Finally, I’ve engaged with Users of Congress about my proposal regarding Gigabit Opportunity Zones. Under this infrastructure plan, the government would make use of tax incentives to encourage the deployment of ultra-fast broadband in lower-income areas as small as an urban city block and as large like a rural county. It would also motivate entrepreneurs to take advantage of these next-generation networks by creating jobs in those areas. Gigabit Opportunity Areas and specific zones would enable Americans to become participants in, rather than spectators of, the digital economy. They would be a effective solution to the digital divide. I hope our elected officials will give the idea serious consideration. * * * Simultaneously, one recent FCC decision provides caused some controversy of late. Particularly, some have asked why the agency’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued an order reconsidering nine companies’ eligibility to participate in the Lifeline program, which aims to help make voice and broadband more affordable to low-income Americans. It’s vital that low-income Americans have access to communications services, including broadband Internet, which usually Lifeline helps to achieve. Unfortunately, many of the media headlines have got sensationalized this story and provided some an entirely misleading impression of what is going on. Indeed, based on the some of the insurance coverage, one would think that we had ended Lifeline broadband subsidies altogether. So I want to set the record straight in regards to the modest steps we have taken plus why we have taken them. First , the action only impacted 9 from the over 900 providers participating in the particular Lifeline program. In other words, 99% of the companies participating in the program are certainly not affected at all. Second , the applications of these nine providers to participate in the program have not been rejected. They simply remain pending at the Commission. Third , all but among the newly designated providers covered by the order do not yet have any customers. Fourth , the prior FCC disregarded the well-established process regarding approving applications like these. As the Nationwide Tribal Telecommunications Association pointed out, several of the providers had never coordinated their applications with Tribes, regardless of an FCC rule clearly requiring them to do so. These Tribal associates thus requested that the designations end up being reversed. Moreover, two of the designated providers were approved in the middle of the 30-day period for public comment — that is, before the public even had a chance to weigh in over the designation. Whatever one thinks of the value of these applications, that was plainly incorrect. Fifth , many of these designations were approved within the last days of the last Administration (two times before Inauguration Day), over the arguments of two of the four Commissioners, despite the fact that the FCC’s congressional oversight committees had requested that the Fee not take controversial actions during the changeover between Administrations (consistent with the request from those same committees throughout the Republican-to-Democrat transition in 2008–09). Thus, a majority of Commissioners never supported authorization of these designations. Sixth , every dollar that is spent on subsidizing somebody who doesn’t need the help by definition will not go to someone who does. That means that the Commission needs to make sure that there are strong safeguards against waste, fraud, and abuse before expanding the program in order to new providers. But consider: The National Verifier — which is a new database that is intended to verify eligibility to participate in the Lifeline program — does not currently exist and will not start operating until the end of 2017. Further, it is not scheduled to cover just about all states until 2019. My investigation last year into these matters revealed serious weaknesses in federal shields, allowing providers to indiscriminately override checks that are supposed to prevent wasteful and fraudulent activities. (These bank checks include common-sense steps like confirming the identity of would-be Personal assistant recipients. ) From October 2014 until June 2016, wireless resellers had overridden such safeguards 4, 291, 647 times in total. The investigation also uncovered some other loopholes, including one that let a business claim subsidies for approximately 22, 1000 phantom subscribers each month in the condition of Michigan. Seventh and finally, there is a serious question as to whether the FCC has the legal authority to specify Lifeline providers or whether this kind of designations must be made by state government authorities, as has long been the norm. Indeed, some time before the prior FCC issued these last-minute designations, state regulatory agencies got filed a substantial legal challenge to the entire process of the FCC designating Lifeline Broadband Providers, arguing that will it’s unlawful, and the FCC itself recently asked the court for more time to consider this issue. For instance, Area 214 of the Communications Act explicitly says that states must make designations intended for purposes of allowing companies to receive Lifeline subsidies. The FCC has frequently, and for many years, recognized states’ major role in this area. By preempting the particular states’ role in certification, the particular federal designations appear to run afoul of this legal framework. Putting the particular designations on hold gives the FCC the chance to make sure the process is lawfully defensible and to avoid potentially stranding customers if the courts ultimately consider the process unlawful. Hyperbolic headlines always attract more interest than mundane truths. For example , a tale detailing how the FCC was starting further review of the eligibility associated with 1% of Lifeline providers wouldn’t generate too many clicks. That’s always been the case in policy debates, obviously. But at the end of the day, my focus continues to be — and will continue to be so long as I use the privilege of serving as the Chairman of the FCC — performing everything within the FCC’s power to close up the digital divide. I am dedicated, both by belief and by regulation, to ensuring that the agency is focused over the 21st century version of our 20th one hundred year charge: “to make available, so far as feasible, to all the people of the United States, without splendour on the basis of race, color, religion, nationwide origin, or sex, a rapid, effective, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges. ” We’ve made progress over the past couple weeks, and we’ll do more in the time to come to benefit all Americans. Take note: This article was originally posted on Medium. com




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