FCC extends Lifeline to cover broadband – subsidies of $9.25 will be available

Yesterday the FCC expanded the Lifeline program to support stand-alone broadband service as well as bundled voice and data service packages. Previously Lifeline focused on telephone service. This is big for at least two reasons. On a very practical basis it will provide financial incentives for low income Americans to get online. On a philosophical basis – it’s a recognition that broadband is (at least) as essential as telephone service.

The FCC posted a press release that covers everything you’d want to know about Lifeline and more. I’m going to try to distill it to the points that I think most readers will find more interesting…

The changes

  • Maintain current $9.25 monthly household subsidy. But also anticipates technological advances in the convergence of mobile voice and data, phasing in broadband requirement as support for stand-alone voice decreases to $7.25 on Dec. 1, 2019; $5.25 by Dec. 1, 2020; and no support by Dec. 1, 2021, except in areas where there is only one Lifeline provider
  • Will establish an independent National Eligibility Verifier to confirm subscriber eligibility. At the same time the verifier deters waste, fraud and abuse, it will encourage participation by
    legitimate providers by removing the burden of eligibility screening.
  • Will support stand-alone mobile or fixed broadband Internet access service, as well as bundles including fixed or mobile voice and broadband. Phases in mobile broadband requirement over five years. Includes mobile devices with Wi-Fi and hotspot functionality
  • Based on fixed speed standard based on what a substantial majority of consumers receive (currently 10 Mbps downloads/1 Mbps uploads) and sets minimum monthly fixed broadband usage allowance standard, starting at 150 GB and updated thereafter
This entry was posted in Digital Divide, FCC, Funding by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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