The Feb. 12 editorial “The wrong way to bridge the digital divide” left readers with the wrong impression regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s new broadband agenda. Specifically, the editorial board joined the political opponents of the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, in criticizing his decision to delay approval of nine of 900 Lifeline providers to give his agency a bit more time to assess the potential for waste, fraud and abuse. Seeking such a delay seems prudent and responsible, as the action giving them Lifeline-designation status was issued at the 11th hour of the prior chairman’s watch and without a majority in support.
In 2012, the FCC acknowledged a history of waste, fraud and abuse, adopting new rules to fight fraud. And the commission avoided designating any new Lifeline service providers for the same reason for six years, up until two weeks after the presidential election.
Mr. Pai wrote previously that the goal should be to “target Lifeline spending on those who really need the help.” This is a worthy and responsible objective. Indeed, delaying just nine of 900 providers until regulators can confirm these recipients are appropriate strengthens the Lifeline program by ensuring fewer Solyndras and more successes.
Bruce Mehlman, Washington
The writer is co-chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance and a former assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy.
The editorial on “the digital divide” could not have been more misguided on what it takes to close the divide. Ensuring taxpayer dollars get to the nearly 40 million low-income Americans who need help connecting is pragmatic action to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of a vital government program. The FCC’s decision to press pause on the eligibility of nine new entities, only one of which even has customers, affects less than 1 percent of companies participating in the program. Far from “crippling,” as the editorial claimed, this is the kind of strong oversight that this embattled program and those who depend on it deserve so that our country can truly “walk the walk” of a connected nation.
Diane Smith, Washington
The writer is interim chair of