FCC’s Gigi Sohn Remarks on Lifeline Modernization at the Digital Pathway Summit

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In remarks at the Digital Pathway Summit, the Federal Communications Commission’s Gigi Sohn focused her remarks on broadband adoption and, in particular, the commission’s efforts to modernize the Lifeline program which ensures the affordability of communications services. Noting recent Pew Research Center findings, she noted that home broadband adoption seems to have plateaued. Although people – just about everyone – understand that broadband has gone from luxury to necessity. The major barrier to adoption these days is cost. To address that, the FCC is working to expand its Lifeline program to allow discounts for broadband service.

Sohn offered a preview:

  • Allowing Lifeline to support both fixed and mobile broadband service;
  • Establishing minimum standards of service that Lifeline providers must deliver to receive funds, and the Commission will continually evaluate those standards using objective data and make adjustments as needed;
  • Creating a national eligibility verifier, which would work in tandem with the state-run eligibility verifiers across the country;
  • Streamlining the requirements to become a Lifeline provider; and
  • Encouraging greater participation in the program by eligible consumers.

She concluded saying, “When Lifeline was created telephone adoption in the US was 92 percent. At first blush, 92 percent probably sounds pretty good. Until you think that this number means millions of Americans were shut off from our primary communications network. I hope that we can get to 92 percent broadband adoption in the not-too-distant future. And if and when we do, I hope we will show the same resolve to keep pushing toward 100 percent. It won’t be easy, but working together, I know that we can keep moving forward and keep expanding the benefits of the Internet revolution to all Americans.”

FCC’s Gigi Sohn Remarks on Lifeline Modernization at the Digital Pathway Summit