Opinion | Technology

Opinion: Don't let FCC cut off Lifeline on Oklahoma tribal lands






Tribal lands in Oklahoma are being redefined by the Federal Communications Commission. Graphic by Native Public Media and Trahant Reports

Why is Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai going after the Tribal Lifeline program in Oklahoma? Loris Taylor of Native Public Media; Matthew Rantanen of the Southern California Tribal Digital Village; and Susan Feller of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums call on the FCC to consult tribes before cutting off service to tribal members across the state:
In a February 2, 2016 press release, Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai called the continuation of Tribal Lifeline subsidies in Oklahoma a “legal scandal” and a “bloated tax payer subsidy.”

The Universal Service Fund is not tax based, but rather a federal subsidy program based on fees and designed to make services affordable to impoverished families. Enhanced Tribal Lifeline subsidies are designed to help those living on Tribal lands afford basic telephone service.

At issue is the map used to determine “tribal lands.” Mr. Pai’s objections are based upon the fact that the FCC will, at least for a short period of time, continue to use a map that includes lands that were historically occupied by Native Americans.

Mr. Pai’s knee-jerk statement implies that Tribes are somehow the culpable recipients of undeserved benefits. Mr. Pai's statements also suggest a misunderstanding of how the Lifeline program actually operates to assist all low-income families on Tribal lands, not just Tribal families.

Get the Story:
Loris Taylor, Matthew Rantanen & Susan Feller: Don't Let FCC Cut Off Oklahoma Lifeline (Indian Country Today 2/21)

Relevant Documents:
SECOND FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING, ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION, SECOND REPORT AND ORDER, AND MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER (June 18, 2015)
In the Matter of Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization (February 2, 2016)

Related Stories:
Mark Trahant: FCC invents new law for tribal lands in Oklahoma (9/2)