Politics

'Obamaphone' use grew 100-fold in 3 years in Maryland -- to twice the eligible number

As many as 645,000 Maryland residents had so-called Obamaphones in 2012 — one hundred times as many people as there were in 2009, and double the number in that state who are supposed to be eligible for the program based on their income.

The program, officially called Lifeline, is run by the Federal Communications Commission and imposes hefty fees on every paying phone company to give free phone service to low-income Americans.

The profits to telecom companies from the free, government-provided phone service are so great that in Nebraska alone, 51 corporations, many of them who are not even traditional phone companies building infrastructure and attracting paying subscribers, fought for a piece of the pie.

That structure allows advocates to argue that it’s not a tax and doesn’t affect the budget, and lessens the extent to which the FCC is beholden to Congress.


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