On May 28, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking aimed at modernizing the FCC’s Lifeline program which makes telecommunications services more affordable for low-income families. The following statement may be attributed to Amina Fazlullah, the Benton Foundation’s Director of Policy:
The FCC’s January 2012 reforms of its Lifeline program have saved U.S. ratepayers billions, strengthening oversight and eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. With these reforms now implemented, the Benton Foundation welcomes today’s action by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to take the next step and modernize Lifeline to reflect the reality of 2015: home broadband service is no longer a luxury, but an essential service for education, public health, public safety, jobs and the economy. In 1996, Congress decided that “universal service” should be an evolving level of telecommunications services. Broadband services to the home are widely deployed and subscribed to by households that can afford them. Now is the time for the FCC to begin support for families that are not able to afford broadband.
In addition to Chairman Wheeler, FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel have articulated the need to modernize the Lifeline program. Benton thanks them for their efforts.