FCC Pauses Lifeline Minimum Service Standard Increase and Voice-Only Services Phase-Out

The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau paused the scheduled phase-out in Lifeline support for voice-only services and the scheduled increase in the mobile broadband data capacity minimum service standards for the Lifeline program. As directed by the FCC in the 2016 Lifeline Order, support for services that meet only the voice minimum service standard is scheduled to be eliminated in most areas on December 1, 2021. The 2016 Lifeline Order also created a formula to determine annual increases to the minimum service standard for mobile broadband data capacity, which would result in an increase to 18 GB per month beginning December 1, 2021. The FCC found that the creation of the Emergency Benefit Broadband Program (EBB Program), the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and new data collected as part of the Bureau’s State of the Lifeline Marketplace Report provide good cause for the Bureau to pause both the phase-out in support for voice-only services and the increase in minimum service standards for mobile broadband data capacity. This pause will last for one year, until December 1, 2022, to give the FCC time to evaluate whether the noted changed circumstances warrant longer-term modifications of the Lifeline program.

WCB Pauses Lifeline Phase-Out and Mobile Data Capacity Increase