The poor have a new social program!

1934 the government had a problem, the new emerging telephone market was primarily based around large populations (cities). And although people in out lying areas could afford to pay for telephone service, the phone companies wouldn’t invest in an infrastructure to serve so few.

The government enacted the Telecommunications Act to fund the infrastructure needed to serve the outlying areas. This allowed the phone companies to add a charge to bills to subsidize the extra cost to allow the suburbs to have the same access as the cities.

This was a good idea UNTIL the infrastructure was built, but somewhere the act took a bizarre turn. In 1997 the Clinton Administration expounded on the act to encompass areas other then telephone. They expanded at that point to include cell phones and broadband service. This is where the water gets muddy. Somewhere between 1997 and now the act was re-interpreted from “areas unserved” to “people unable to pay.”

The monies collected from the Universal Connectivity Fee or The Federal Universal Fund highlighted on your cell phone bill, all go into a fund operated by a co-op of cell phone companies. The government allows them to collect these fees (usually through state oversight) and in turn for programs the government wishes to supply. Following me so far?

I sent emails to the republicans responsible for this new legislation and asked them what the original intent of this act was and if this interpretation was an unintended consequence. That was some 6 weeks ago, so I don’t think I’m going to get an answer. I DO know however the following program has already been instituted. Anyone that qualifies for government assistance for the poor will qualify them for a free cell phone and 60 minutes of free airtime per month!

Existing programs that immediately qualify you for this program:
Federal Public Housing Assistance / Section 8
Food Stamps
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
National School Lunch (free program only)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Bureau of Indian Affairs Programs (Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Head Start Subsidy, NSLP)
I see you reeling already; sit down this is going to get worse. SO FAR the free service is limited to cell phones only, but the wording on the bill in senate right now ( S.101.IS) will also allow access to broadband. So in the future if this bill passes free cell phone service, AND free broadband Internet could result. This isn’t a possibility; half of this has already been enacted!

Many states have already started; the two first ones were Florida and Tennessee. Tennessee has over 800,000 people that qualify for this program……just think….this is ONE state!

Just think, 20 years ago we never had cell phones (what on earth did we do?), but now we are paying for cell phone service, and soon to include broadband. Who do we blame or call? Damned if I know, I’ve researched this one for over a month, and the politicians have hidden this one well, I have yet to find a smoking gun that points to the group that has allowed this. I’ll give you some links below to show what is happening. Maybe we should bitch loud enough to our state representatives, and if they accept the bitching it’s their fault. If it’s not them, they will probably give up the ones who were. I know I’m all over it like a cheap suit, this is NUTS!

Link to one company that offers it

Wikipedia explanation

Library of congress Thomas, the bill now in senate