September 1, 2015
Partner John J. Heitmann was quoted in the Law360 article "Groups Sound Off On Minimum Standards In FCC's Lifeline." The article focuses on a slew of proposed changes adopted by the Federal Communications Commission that would update the decades-old Lifeline program to ensure minimum service standards for both voice and broadband, change who determines eligibility for the program, and determine a way to increase the competition among providers. CTIA-The Wireless Association, TechFreedom, the Lifeline Connects Coalition and others sounded off on the proposed changes and request for feedback from the FCC. The Lifeline Connects Coalition, a group of providers that also work on Lifeline education and advocacy, filed joint comments Monday arguing that the agency should not set minimum service standards. Mr. Heitmann, who represents the coalition, said that, "Competition does a better job of delivering value to consumers than regulation, and consumers do a better job of picking what they want than regulators do." He goes on to note that many carriers have calibrated their service to match the amount of the subsidy so that consumers don't have any out-of-pocket costs. If the minimum service standard is set too high, that could change. "All consumers would then be told, 'You are going to get a much better plan because the FCC has decided everybody needs to have a Cadillac,'" he said. "'But you can't get a Cadillac for free, so we need to charge you a certain amount.' It will effectively eliminate these plans."
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