Home - , , , , - FreedomPop Vows To Work With The FCC, Even After The Agency Cut Lifeline Broadband Subsidies

FreedomPop Vows To Work With The FCC, Even After The Agency Cut Lifeline Broadband Subsidies

freedompop-ceo-stephen-stokols
A few days ago, Ajit Pai, the new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Trump administration, told nine companies that they will no longer be able to give subsidized broadband to users eligible for the Lifeline program. The nine companies included Spot On, Boomerang Wireless, KonaTel, FreedomPop, Applied Research Designs, Liberty Cablevision (from Puerto Rico), Northland Cable Television, and Wabash Independent Networks.

For those not familiar with Lifeline, it is a program that provides $9.25 monthly to poor folks so that they could use it for basic communications purposes (like wireless service). Last year while former Chair Tom Wheeler was still in the FCC (he resigned after Donald Trump got elected), the program had started to also support broadband. But now that Pai is the new Chair, the FCC is now moving to overturn some of the changes introduced by Wheeler not too long ago. The agency is now implementing measures to make sure that fraud and improper business practices are minimized in Lifeline, and cutting the broadband subsidies will supposedly help expedite that objective.

One of the nine companies directly affected is FreedomPop, and the mobile virtual network operator (it leases network capacity from major US wireless carriers such as Sprint and AT&T) has since responded to the FCC’s recent actions by way of a blog post, essentially stating that it is willing to work with the agency in making sure the Universal Service Fund is protected from fraud and abuse. At the same time, the MVNO once again expressed its commitment to help low-income Americans have better access to mobile communications.

As explained by Eric Schimpf, the Head of Lifeline at FreedomPop, it will be significantly increasing its efforts in ensuring that those who signed up for the Lifeline program will not be abandoned, despite the new changes introduced by the FCC. Last year, FreedomPop had applied for a Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) designation, and it was granted that designation more than a couple of months ago. The carrier’s plan was to provide a mobile broadband package that retails for $10.99 to qualified Lifeline customers. If they like, these customers can also get a plan with heavier data inclusions on a discounted price ($10 off). Despite having its LBP designation rescinded by the FCC, FreedomPop has remained positive that it can still launch its Lifeline services across the country soon.


Source: FreedomPop

12 comments:

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  1. CEOs will call the shots w Trump on the FCC. We ALL will pay more for internet and cable TV and wireless phones. And so will services that stream content to consumers, such as Pandora and Netflix.

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    1. In all fairness while Trump said he was going to "make America great again," he never did specify FOR WHOM.

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  2. "Vows" or "begs?" I suspect FP is highly dependent upon those subsidies, and so needs to get them back ASAP,

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  3. according to the article "FreedomPop has remained positive that it can still launch its Lifeline services across the country soon." ... so despite starting the program licensing and what appears to be some initial offers, FreedomPop doesn't even have the subsidized services up and running?

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    1. They're still on the docket / not approved yet.

      https://www.fcc.gov/lifeline-broadband-provider-petitions-public-comment-periods

      I see the same "12/1" date in the sourced blog post, but ... The public comment period wasn't even closed by that point in time. Maybe they were previously approved for a small scale trial?

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    2. From ECFS Document -FCC: "On December 1, 2016, the Bureau conditionally designated Spot On, Boomerang, KonaTel, and FreedomPop as LBPs, eligible to receive Lifeline BIAS support solely in the designated service areas described in each respective petition".

      On Feb 3, the FCC revoked those providers LBP (Lifeline Broadband Provider) status which returned their applications pending status.

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  4. Not to worry... I'm sure Trump has a secret plan to replace the LBPs with a Yuge Plan that will put the poor on an equal footing with the rich, you know, right after restoring their health insurance.

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  5. Lifeline is full of fraud. I've seen some people walking around with 3 or 4 "Obamaphones". When I used to work in the business on the retail side, it was horrendous. It needs an overhaul. As a working American who pays taxes (and for my own service), it has been appauling. This is great news.

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    1. Pai at FCC just made an announcement that they are going after the fraud. There was a $50M FCC study that ID fraud. FCC will cap the Lifeline budget at $1.5B (!), restructure the program and use the money they save by cutting fraud to promote Lifeline to people who actually need it and aren't using it now.
      It's about time.

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    2. "Pai at FCC just made an announcement that they are going after fraud. There is a 50M FCC study..." Don't you find that ironic?

      Dale

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  6. Yes, as I said, The Donald has this well in hand, because he's the smartest guy that he knows. Finally, someone to the rescue of the little guy, ya know... draining the swamp and sending all those Goldman Sachs billionaires packing! BTW, it's spelled "appalling" (unless you are referring to all those "Obamaphone" abusers who are named, "Paul"...).

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  7. I don't understand why everyone calls them Obamaphones? It was Bush that came up with the program. In any case, if Trump really wants to fix the program how about he just drops it and gets rid of all the Universal service fund fees I pay on my bills?

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