Although I also deplore the disappearance of pay phones (because I frequently forget to carry my cellphone), Delabian L. Rice-Thurston [letters, April 9] need not worry about low-income people spending money on cellphones that would be better used for necessities.
The Federal Communications Commission has a program called Lifelinethat gives low-income Americans free cellphones and up to 250 free minutes per month. So, money for food and clothing does not have to go to cellphones.
Carol Bream, Frederick
For five years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has provided subsidies to wireless phone companies so that some low-income people can obtain free mobile phones and service. In February, the FCC voted to expand the program, which is projected now to cost more than $2 billion annually.
In that proceeding, the small independent businesses that are solely providing pay phone service since the telephone companies such as Verizon and AT&T abandoned the field told the FCC that its program was having a devastating impact on pay phones, leading to their removal in droves. The result is that the millions of low-income people who depend on pay phones every day to conduct their everyday lives, as well as people who need pay phones when their mobile phones won’t work, are left without any service. The pay phone providers asked to be made a small part of the support program that the FCC gives to wireless companies, but the FCC denied the request.
Pay phones are available to everyone, including the 50 percent of low-income people who, under the FCC’s own analysis, won’t be reached by its cellphone program. The FCC should reverse this truly shortsighted decision.
Willard R. Nichols, Alexandria
The writer is president of the American Public Communications Council.