In a recent Ex Parte letter to the Federal Communications Commission, the National Tribal Telecommunications Association asked that it revere its course and not begin its planned December 1, 2021 phase-out of the standalone voice service lifeline credit.
Citing similar requests from NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and USTelecom, NTTA urged the Commission to delay the effective date of such action “to protect some of the most vulnerable Americans, including many in tribal areas, from potentially losing their connections to the world.”
NTTA said that the use of voice services is “especially critical in tribal lands, where many…elderly do not use broadband service to connect to the world, but rather rely on basic local, standalone voice service. With many of these elderly Native Americans on fixed incomes, their connection is at risk unless more funds can be found to pay for the increased charge previously covered by the federal Lifeline program.”
We hope that the FCC will give serious attention to this request. Some of our most vulnerable citizens are at serious risk of losing their basic voice telephone service if this subsidy is eliminated.
With universal service at affordable rates still a keystone of federal telecommunications policy, this is hardly the time to deprive any segment of our populace of their most fundamental service.