Tell the FCC to Preserve Lifeline for Puerto Rico

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On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the power and communications infrastructure in Puerto Rico, leaving 100 percent of the island without power. Additionally, 95 percent of all cell towers were damaged or out-of-service.

Over four months later, nearly half a million Puerto Ricans are still without power and a portion of the island’s cellphone towers still have not been repaired. In addition, home internet services have yet to be restored to at least a third of the island.

Puerto Rico urgently needs more help in getting and staying connected to basic and vital communications services. Yet, the FCC voted along party lines to advance proposals that would gut the Lifeline program, the only federal program that provides affordable phone and internet access to low-income families.

The FCC is seeking public comment on the impact of the 2017 hurricane season on the communications infrastructure and on its proposals to drastically alter the scope and purpose of Lifeline. These proposals would eliminate wireless resellers from the Lifeline program, cutting off access to approximately 70 percent of Lifeline recipients. The changes would leave thousands of Puerto Ricans without any Lifeline service options, depriving them of affordable communications -- a cruel outcome in the wake of such devastation.

It is critical for the FCC to hear from the Puerto Rican community about the ongoing challenges they face in being able to access basic and vital communications services — and on what can be done to prevent this type of devastation after the next storm.

Tell the FCC to abandon its proposal to gut Lifeline and allow the people of Puerto Rico enough time to recover from the devastating impact of the 2017 hurricane season. Puerto Rico needs more, not less telecommunications tools to rebuild.

Lifeline is one of those tools.

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