Today’s Regulatory Mix: California Legislation Would Revamp Lifeline Program, FCC Commissioner Carr Praises FAIR Contributions Act
California Legislation Would Revamp Lifeline Program
The Senate Committee on Appropriations meets Aug. 16 to vote on a bill that would require the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission), before March 1, 2022, to update its LifeLine program rules and modify the recertification process so that it “minimizes barriers to LifeLine subscriber recertification and reduces the burden and cost of recertification on the LifeLine program.” AB 74 would require the Commission to consult with LifeLine providers, the FCC, and the Universal Service Administrative Company before January 1, 2023 to adopt updated rules for the state program intended to achieve participation and recertification rates at least equivalent to those rates achieved for the federal program. The bill would require the Commission to annually publish a report on its website showing the participation and recertification rates of eligible LifeLine subscribers.
FCC Commissioner Carr Praises FAIR Contributions Act
In a May op-ed, FCC Commissioner Carr called for Big Tech to pay its fair share towards Internet builds in rural areas and other efforts to close the digital divide by contributing to the Universal Service Fund (USF). Earlier this week, Senators Roger Wicker, Shelley Moore Capito, and Todd Young, introduced legislation that would direct the FCC to study and report to Congress on the feasibility of funding the USF through contributions from Big Tech.
In a statement released by the FCC, Commissioner Carr said, “I applaud Senators Wicker, Capito, and Young for introducing the FAIR Contributions Act. For too long, Big Tech has been enjoying a free ride on our Internet infrastructure. The current funding mechanism for the Universal Service Fund—a regressive tax on the monthly bills for traditional telephone service, both wireless and wireline—is unfair and unsustainable. Indeed, it’s like taxing horseshoes to pay for highways. “Requiring Big Tech to contribute is more than fair. It is consistent with the network compact that has prevailed since the earliest days of America’s communications networks. Historically, the businesses that derived the greatest benefit from a communications network paid the lion’s share of the costs. I am pleased that the FAIR Contributions Act would call on the FCC to open a proceeding to look at ending the charge on consumers’ monthly telephone bills and shifting a fair amount over to Big Tech.”
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.