Some people can’t get FCC subsidy because “Street” isn’t the same as “St.”

A rubber stamp stamping the word,

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | acilo)

Some broadband users who qualify for the government’s new $50-per-month subsidies haven’t been able to obtain the discounts because of technical problems in the Federal Communications Commission’s rollout of the program.

The problems stem from the FCC’s National Verifier and how the broadband providers’ systems interact with the FCC database, as detailed in an article published by Protocol today. Small mismatches between entries in databases—such as having an address recorded as Elm St. in an ISP’s system and Elm Street in the FCC’s—can cause people’s applications to be rejected.

ISPs may be partly to blame as some collected information in the wrong format despite having received training on how to use the system from the FCC. In hindsight, though, the FCC could have allowed ISPs to use the program without requiring such strict data matching. The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) was rolled out quickly relative to other government programs because of the pressing need to get subsidies to consumers, and the FCC hasn’t been able to fully stamp out this problem in the month since the program began.

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Verizon says forcing people off old plans to get FCC subsidy isn’t “upselling”

A Verizon FiOS box truck on a street in New York City.

Enlarge / A Verizon FiOS truck in Manhattan on September 15, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Smith Collection | Gado)

Verizon is defending its practice of forcing customers to switch plans to get a government-funded $50-per-month discount, telling the Federal Communications Commission that this is not the same thing as “upselling.” Verizon has partially backtracked from this restrictive policy but told the FCC it will take “about a month” to deploy a billing-software update that will let more home-Internet customers get the discounts without changing plans.

As we wrote on May 18, Verizon is preventing some customers from getting the new government subsidies unless they switch to different plans that are sometimes more expensive. AT&T, Charter, and T-Mobile also limit the plans eligible for the subsidies, while Comcast says it will honor the discounts even on grandfathered plans that are no longer offered to new customers.

Verizon is mad that its policy was criticized.

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#emergency-broadband-benefit, #policy, #verizon