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FCC commissioner wants to end Obamaphone fraud


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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A top federal regulator wants the Federal Communications Commission to rein in the so-called “Obamaphone” program.


FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told an audience of right-leaning tech policy advocates Monday morning during an event organized by the nonprofit organization Citizens Against Government Waste that he wanted to reform the Lifeline program. Lifeline was first created in the 1980s, but now is fraught with waste, fraud, abuse by telecom industry members and consumers alike.


The Lifeline program is part of the congressionally mandated Universal Service Fund, intended to help carriers subsidize phone service for low-income people. Wireless carriers participating in the program receive $9.95 per month for each qualifying subscriber, and $34.25 if the subscriber lives in tribal lands. According to the FCC’s rules, only one Lifeline phone is allowed per qualifying customer.


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“As that wise sage Yoda put it in the Empire Strikes Back,” he said, eliciting a laugh from the room, “‘Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.’”

It's official: That expression is worn out now at my house. I just heard it once too often.

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