Mixed Decision on Waiver of Lifeline Minimum Service Standards

The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau addresses the petition of the National Lifeline Association (NaLA), seeking a waiver of the FCC’s rules updating the Lifeline program’s minimum service standard for mobile broadband usage, which otherwise would take effect on December 1, 2020. NaLA also seeks to halt the phase-down of the support amount for Lifeline service that does not meet the broadband minimum standard, which will decrease from $7.25/month to $5.25/month on December 1, 2020. Given the large increase to the mobile broadband minimum service standard that would result from the formula the FCC adopted in 2016, the FCC’s stated intent to regularly and predictably increase the minimum service standard for mobile broadband usage to ensure that Lifeline supports an evolving level of service, and the increased reliance by Americans on mobile broadband as a result of the pandemic, good cause exists to partially grant the petition on this issue. Specifically, the bureau waives the rule to the extent it would establish a minimum service standard greater than 4.5 GB/month, beginning on December 1, 2020, finding that this moderate 50% increase—equal to the 50% increase permitted by the FCC’s partial waiver of the rule in 2019— balances the program’s goals of accessibility and affordability. The bureau further finds that NaLA has not shown that good cause exists to halt the scheduled phase-down of support for Lifeline voice service, and therefore denies that portion of the petition

FCC's WCB Addresses NaLA Waiver of Lifeline Minimum Service Standards