FCC Lifeline Modernization Order

In this Order, we adopt reforms to make the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program a key driver of the solution to our Nation’s broadband affordability challenge. Intended initially as a mechanism to reduce the cost of phone service for low-income customers, the Lifeline program has worked in lockstep with telephone providers and consumers to increase the uptake in phone service throughout the country and has kept pace with changes in technology as the Nation moved from a wireline world to one where the number of mobile devices and services now exceeds the population of the United States. But at a time when our economy and lives are increasingly moving online and millions of Americans remain offline, the Lifeline program must keep pace with this technological evolution to fulfill its core mission.

The Order we adopt focuses the Lifeline program on broadband by encouraging broadband providers to offer supported broadband services that meet standards we set to ensure ratepayers supporting the program are obtaining value for their contributions and Lifeline subscribers can participate fully in today’s society. We also take important steps to improve the management and design of the program by streamlining program rules and eliminating outdated program obligations with the goal of providing incentives for broadband providers to participate and increasing competition and meaningful broadband offerings to Lifeline subscribers. Finally, we follow through on the important and highly effective reforms the Commission initiated in 2012 by making several additional changes to combat waste, fraud, and abuse, including establishing a National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier that will remove the responsibility of determining Lifeline subscriber eligibility from providers.

FCC Lifeline Modernization Order Statement of Chairman Tom Wheeler (Wheeler Statement) Statement of Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (Clyburn Statement) Statement of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel (Rosenworcel Statement) Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Ajit Pai (Pai Dissent) Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Michael O'Rielly (O'Rielly Dissent)