FCC Modernizes Lifeline Program for the Digital Age

The Federal Communications Commission modernized and reformed its Lifeline program to help low income consumers afford access to the 21st Century’s vital communications network: the Internet. For the first time, Lifeline will support stand-alone broadband service as well as bundled voice and data service packages.

To spark competitive service options for Lifeline consumers, the rules will unlock the Lifeline broadband marketplace to attract additional providers. And new service standards will ensure that supported services meet modern needs. The rules significantly strengthen the Commission’s landmark 2012 reforms of the program by establishing 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. Finally, a budget mechanism will limit Lifeline's cost to ratepayers.

FCC Modernizes Lifeline Program for the Digital Age Statement of Chairman Wheeler on Lifeline Modernization (Wheeler Statement) Statement of Commissioner Rosenworcel on Lifeline Modernization (Rosenworcel Statement) FCC Approves Broadband Subsidy for Low-Income Households (New York Times) FCC votes to make low-income Americans eligible for subsidy for high-speed Internet service (Los Angeles Times) FCC approves Internet subsidies for the poor (The Hill) America’s poor can now get cheaper Internet access (Washington Post) Shrinking the Digital Divide: FCC Adopts Lifeline Broadband Subsidy (Public Knowledge blog) Divided FCC Votes for Lifeline Reform (Broadcasting & Cable)