AT&T Statement on FCC’s
Actions on Lifeline, Privacy

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on March 31, 2016 at 4:40 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Bob Quinn, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory:

“Notwithstanding the controversy that occurred over the Lifeline action at today’s meeting, positive steps were taken to move Lifeline into the 21st century by beginning the transition of the program from voice to broadband. The agency also started the process of removing carriers from determining whether or not consumers are eligible to receive the benefits of Lifeline service.  The administrative reforms contemplated by today’s action will enable service providers to focus on better serving the participants in the program.  We appreciated that the agency took the time to engage with stakeholders to understand the industry’s issues that exist in the current program.

“The privacy rulemaking is a whole nother matter, however. The Commission was much less interested in crafting a solution that takes an even-handed approach to how the government addresses privacy on the Internet.  Today, all participants in the Internet ecosystem operate under the same privacy framework.  The FCC’s proposed approach would create an un-level playing field that would limit or even prohibit broadband providers from utilizing any of the ad-supported models adopted by edge providers that have proven so popular with consumers.  If that were not enough, the FCC’s approach will also confuse consumers who could fairly read today’s proclamations and conclude that the FCC has dramatically increased consumer privacy on the Internet.  It has not. This type of one-sided approach will cause customer confusion and will ultimately lead to higher broadband prices and less broadband deployment in the United States.”

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Lifeline is Headed in the
Right Direction (We Hope)

Posted by: Jim Cicconi on March 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm

The effort to modernize the troubled Lifeline program appears to be moving in the right direction.  AT&T has long supported the need to fix the program’s glaring administrative problems while allowing Lifeline eligible consumers to use their $9.25 discount on Internet access services. Last week, the FCC’s fact sheet outlined plans for a National Eligibility Verifier that should take eligibility decisions out of service providers’ hands, which truly has the potential to be a transformative change if properly implemented.  It could close the door on provider-initiated eligibility fraud and help re-focus the program on the consumers it was intended to serve.

What’s not clear in the fact sheet, however, is how long it will take before providers can stop performing all of these functions and whether the National Eligibility Verifier will take over any of the other administrative functions that providers are currently required to perform.  Our fingers will remain crossed until we see all the details, and we may not uncross until we get further down the road to implementation. But Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn should be commended for championing this approach.

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TOPICS: Consumers, FCC, Lifeline
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