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FCC gives over $1M in phone subsidies to dead people

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Zeus-cat

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This might be one of those programs that could end right now. Low end cell phones are dirt cheap. That's what I use (tracfone) . Honestly, if you want to give the poor a cell phone; just give them one no questions asked. But I am talking bare bones phones, call and texting only (which is all mine can easily do). A phone like that would cost the government almost nothing. Activate it for 90 day with a couple of hundred minutes. Want it longer, you pay for it. Not worth the effort to audit the program. These phones are so basic most people wouldn't want one unless that's all they could get.
 

Marc_G

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While I'm quick to pile on against waste and fraud, particularly when it is perpetrated by telecom companies for which I hold little sympathy, read the article.

"The study, which looked at data from June 2014 until May 2017, also found that $1.2 million annually had gone to fake or deceased individuals. "

OK, $1.2M wasted per year is a bad thing. But how much of the program is represented by this waste?

"More than 12 million households received Lifeline subsidies with disbursements totaling $1.5 billion between October and December 2016, according to the GAO report."

Alright, it's a $1.5B per quarter or ~$6B / year program.

So the waste identified so far amounts to 0.08% of the program, if my math is correct. For a government run program, that's pretty stellar.

The program costs $500/year per household, which seems a bit steep, but factoring in administrative costs, not so unusual.

The idea of replacing it with cheap cell phones, while practical in some senses, doesn't factor that a lot of the poor people it serves are rural with probably poor signal, and believe it or not, many of them likely still access the internet via modem. I read an article on this about 18 months ago; sorry, no link handy.

So, while I'm against any waste, the scale of what is reported here is pretty tiny in the grand scheme of things.

Marc
 

iqsy59

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Ummmm.... never mind.

Cheers,
Michael
 

Cabernut

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While I'm quick to pile on against waste and fraud, particularly when it is perpetrated by telecom companies for which I hold little sympathy, read the article.

"The study, which looked at data from June 2014 until May 2017, also found that $1.2 million annually had gone to fake or deceased individuals. "

OK, $1.2M wasted per year is a bad thing. But how much of the program is represented by this waste?

"More than 12 million households received Lifeline subsidies with disbursements totaling $1.5 billion between October and December 2016, according to the GAO report."

Alright, it's a $1.5B per quarter or ~$6B / year program.

So the waste identified so far amounts to 0.08% of the program, if my math is correct. For a government run program, that's pretty stellar.

The program costs $500/year per household, which seems a bit steep, but factoring in administrative costs, not so unusual.

The idea of replacing it with cheap cell phones, while practical in some senses, doesn't factor that a lot of the poor people it serves are rural with probably poor signal, and believe it or not, many of them likely still access the internet via modem. I read an article on this about 18 months ago; sorry, no link handy.

So, while I'm against any waste, the scale of what is reported here is pretty tiny in the grand scheme of things.

Marc
Good analysis, however missing the elephant in the room. $2 billion wasted on people who didn't need it in the first place.

"...which found that more than a third of customers receiving the subsidy could not be confirmed as eligible for the program. "
 

ksaves2

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While I'm quick to pile on against waste and fraud, particularly when it is perpetrated by telecom companies for which I hold little sympathy, read the article.

"The study, which looked at data from June 2014 until May 2017, also found that $1.2 million annually had gone to fake or deceased individuals. "

OK, $1.2M wasted per year is a bad thing. But how much of the program is represented by this waste?

"More than 12 million households received Lifeline subsidies with disbursements totaling $1.5 billion between October and December 2016, according to the GAO report."

Alright, it's a $1.5B per quarter or ~$6B / year program.

So the waste identified so far amounts to 0.08% of the program, if my math is correct. For a government run program, that's pretty stellar.

The program costs $500/year per household, which seems a bit steep, but factoring in administrative costs, not so unusual.

The idea of replacing it with cheap cell phones, while practical in some senses, doesn't factor that a lot of the poor people it serves are rural with probably poor signal, and believe it or not, many of them likely still access the internet via modem. I read an article on this about 18 months ago; sorry, no link handy.

So, while I'm against any waste, the scale of what is reported here is pretty tiny in the grand scheme of things.

Marc
Look folks, Google freedompop and anyone and I mean anyone can have "free" VOIP/SIP cellphone service.
There are limitations and if one locks down auto update on droid apps, kill the "auto refill" and they will get 500 messages
a month, 200 minutes of talk time FREE. Data though is only 200mb on GSM server areas and 500mb on CDMA.
Use up any of the parameters and it locks out till the next billing period, then it comes back up.
VOIP/SIP is suckee on a cheap phone but is workable on a better quality one. One needs to be willing to dink around with it during the one month trial period and do searches on their list-serv for P/O'd customers to find out if it's right for them.
I have a data only SIM in a Nexus 7 2013 LTE and get data and do free phone calls and msgs using TalkaTone while on WiFi and only use up data while on cell/LTE. Data consumption on voice isn't so bad and I like it. A full data/voice SIM wasn't worth squat in spouses phone so it's the "free" backup in my dual SIM phone. I did opt for the full house 2Gb data only SIM/month with 500mb rollover for unused data in the N7. Kurt
 

Marc_G

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Good analysis, however missing the elephant in the room. $2 billion wasted on people who didn't need it in the first place.

"...which found that more than a third of customers receiving the subsidy could not be confirmed as eligible for the program. "
OK, fair enough. I skimmed right to the dead people part. I shouldn't have told people to read the article when I didn't do so thoroughly enough myself, for sure! :wink:

I'll point out that "people that couldn't be confirmed as eligible" doesn't necessarily mean that they are all undeserving, given that the known fake/deceased was actually a small number, but still oversight should be built into any program.

I do think cheap give-away cell phones would be a better option for a lot of the people in the program, but I still can't get away from my memory of the article I read a while ago that went on about how this program helps so many rural folks that aren't able to get cell signals, and who still use these landlines for modem access because they don't have available, or can't afford, proper broadband access to the internet.

It all comes down to the adage, "what gets measured gets done," and accountability should definitely be built into any government program, whether designed to help poor folks, or enable lawmakers to do their jobs...

Marc
 

Micromeister

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While I'm quick to pile on against waste and fraud, particularly when it is perpetrated by telecom companies for which I hold little sympathy, read the article.

"The study, which looked at data from June 2014 until May 2017, also found that $1.2 million annually had gone to fake or deceased individuals. "

OK, $1.2M wasted per year is a bad thing. But how much of the program is represented by this waste?

"More than 12 million households received Lifeline subsidies with disbursements totaling $1.5 billion between October and December 2016, according to the GAO report."

Alright, it's a $1.5B per quarter or ~$6B / year program.

So the waste identified so far amounts to 0.08% of the program, if my math is correct. For a government run program, that's pretty stellar.

The program costs $500/year per household, which seems a bit steep, but factoring in administrative costs, not so unusual.

The idea of replacing it with cheap cell phones, while practical in some senses, doesn't factor that a lot of the poor people it serves are rural with probably poor signal, and believe it or not, many of them likely still access the internet via modem. I read an article on this about 18 months ago; sorry, no link handy.

So, while I'm against any waste, the scale of what is reported here is pretty tiny in the grand scheme of things.

Marc

Something Not said so far is: Where in the constitution does it say everyone has the God Given Right to a Cell-Phone?
I am dead set against giving anyone (especially the Hard Core Unemployed) a mobile (luxury) like a Cell-phone. It ticks me no end these dead beats (and under served) get for free what I pay dearly for.
Want a Cell-Phone, get out and WORK for it.

Our Great Constitution grants us the Right to the pursuit of Happiness.... but does not say one will ever find it. Personal responsibility has been all but lost with the "Gimme" slackers.
 
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iqsy59

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Something Not said so far is: Where in the constitution does it say everyone has the God Given Right to a Cell-Phone?
I am dead set against giving anyone (especially the Hard Core Unemployed) a mobile (luxury) like a Cell-phone. It ticks me no end these dead beats (and under served) get for free what I pay dearly for.
Want a Cell-Phone, get out and WORK for it.

Our Great Constitution grants us the Right to the pursuit of Happiness.... but does not say one will ever find it. Personal responsibility has been all but lost with the "Gimme" slackers.
I suspect it's just about impossible to get a job without either a phone number or email address. It seems like a really good investment to me...unless the goal is to keep a certain percentage of the population on the doles.

Cheers,
Michael
 

RIB

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I suspect it's just about impossible to get a job without either a phone number or email address. It seems like a really good investment to me...unless the goal is to keep a certain percentage of the population on the doles.

Cheers,
Michael
Without an e-mail address? Please...................
 

Zeus-cat

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I had a relative go on welfare for a number of years. She was a stay at home mom with a small business stocking little vending machines she placed in hospitals. One day her husband says he was leaving her for another woman and just left. Sabotaged her small business somehow (don't remember what he did, but she had to give it up). He rarely paid child support and with no job she really had no choice, but to go on welfare. Got on welfare, went back to school and became a registered nurse. Got off welfare and got a good job. Got remarried and is doing well. Some people do use welfare the proper way.
 

Steve Shannon

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I had a relative go on welfare for a number of years. She was a stay at home mom with a small business stocking little vending machines she placed in hospitals. One day her husband says he was leaving her for another woman and just left. Sabotaged her small business somehow (don't remember what he did, but she had to give it up). He rarely paid child support and with no job she really had no choice, but to go on welfare. Got on welfare, went back to school and became a registered nurse. Got off welfare and got a good job. Got remarried and is doing well. Some people do use welfare the proper way.
Good for her! I have nothing but respect for her.
 

iqsy59

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Without an e-mail address? Please...................
Not necessary for your career of choice, I assume? It depends on the job... but to have neither makes it pretty much impossible.
 

Woody's Workshop

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If the government would issue phones that only allowed outgoing calls to 911, they would better suit the intended purpose.
However, there would be no restrictions on incoming calls as no fees would be associated with that.
Just my take on things.
 

ksaves2

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Something Not said so far is: Where in the constitution does it say everyone has the God Given Right to a Cell-Phone?
I am dead set against giving anyone (especially the Hard Core Unemployed) a mobile (luxury) like a Cell-phone. It ticks me no end these dead beats (and under served) get for free what I pay dearly for.
Want a Cell-Phone, get out and WORK for it.

Our Great Constitution grants us the Right to the pursuit of Happiness.... but does not say one will ever find it. Personal responsibility has been all but lost with the "Gimme" slackers.
Agreed. I see public aiders where everyone in the family is mindlessly messaging away on Verizon phones. Must cut into their cigarette money I suspect. Kurt
 

modeltrains

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... and who still use these landlines for modem access because they don't have available, or can't afford, proper broadband access to the internet.
That bit brings this to mind,

39% of rural Americans, or 23 million people, lack broadband access, in contrast to only 4% of urban Americans. And despite internet access being confirmed as a public utility, broadband instillation is often delayed in rural areas, primarily due to cost. Not only is the physical infrastructure incredibly expensive (the Internet, as it happens, is a physical thing), but with the added problem of a relatively low number of users per square mile compared to urban areas, providers face long wait times to recoup the cost of installation.
https://emergence.farmersbusinessnetwork.com/the-internet-crisis-in-rural-america

The "39%" in quote above has on page a link to, https://www.fcc.gov/reports-researc...ogress-reports/2016-broadband-progress-report
Key findings include the following:
10 percent of all Americans (34 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service.
39 percent of rural Americans (23 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
By contrast, only 4 percent of urban Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.
The availability of fixed terrestrial services in rural America continues to lag behind urban America at all speeds: 20 percent lack access even to service at 4 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 1 percent from 2011, and 31 percent lack access to 10 Mbps/1 Mbps, down only 4 percent from 2011.
41 percent of Americans living on Tribal lands (1.6 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband
68 percent living in rural areas of Tribal lands (1.3 million people) lack access.
66 percent of Americans living in U.S. territories (2.6 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.
98 percent of those living in rural territorial areas (1.1 million people) lack access.
Americans living in rural and urban areas adopt broadband at similar rates where 25 Mbps/ 3 Mbps service is available, 28 percent in rural areas and 30 percent in urban areas.
While an increasing number of schools have high-speed connections, approximately 41 percent of schools, representing 47 percent of the nation’s students, lack the connectivity to meet the Commission’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff.

This Report concludes that more work needs to be done by the private and public sectors to expand robust broadband to all Americans in a timely way. The FCC will continue working to accelerate broadband deployment and to remove barriers to infrastructure investment, in part by direct subsidies, and in part by identifying and helping to reduce potential obstacles to deployment, competition, and adoption.
https://farmpolicynews.illinois.edu/2017/06/rural-america-stranded-dial-age-rural-broadband-issues/
Rural America “Stranded in the Dial-Up Age,” Rural Broadband Issues
June 19, 2017 Keith Good
In “Moving at the Speed of Dial-Up,” Jennifer Levitz and Valerie Bauerlein reported that, “Jeanne Wilson Johnson raises sheep and angora goats, and to sell the wool and mohair online she drives 4 miles to the parking lot of Roy’s gas station, the closest spot for decent internet access.

“At her 420-acre farm, Ms. Johnson pays $170 a month for a satellite internet service too slow to upload photos, much less conduct business.

As in many rural communities, broadband here lags behind in both speed and available connections. Federal data shows only a fraction of Washington County’s 25,000 residents, including Ms. Johnson, have internet service fast enough to stream videos or access the cloud, activities that residents 80 miles away in St. Louis take for granted.

Friday’s article noted that, “In many rural communities, where available broadband speed and capacity barely surpass old-fashioned dial-up connections, residents sacrifice not only their online pastimes but also chances at a better living. In a generation, the travails of small-town America have overtaken the ills of the city, and this technology disconnect is both a cause and a symptom.
 
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