Status Report: An Update On the FCC's Ongoing Work To Reform And Improve Lifeline and Link Up


Location:
Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States

As part of the Federal Communications Commission's commitment to modernize all federal Universal Service Fund programs and improve protections against waste, fraud, and abuse, the FCC has been working hard on improvements and reform proposals for Lifeline and Link Up, which provide telephone service discounts to low-income consumers. These discounts ensure that the financial hardships these customers face don't disconnect them from the societal and economic benefits of having phone service. Here's what's been going on:

  • The FCC will soon release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) considering the recommendations of the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service;
  • The FCC has increased supervision of the program, focusing on a number of different ways to eliminate potential waste, fraud and abuse, and to address the program’s growth;
  • The FCC denied Tracfone’s petition to eliminate the requirement that it contact all of its customers annually to ensure those customers are receiving only one Lifeline benefit per household and ordered Virgin Mobile to remove customers from the program if they don't use their phones for 60 days;
  • The FCC is developing pilot programs to determine if and how Lifeline and Link Up could be used to support broadband; and
  • As noted above, the FCC is preparing a NPRM improvements to Lifeline and Link Up, including a set of recommendations made in November by the Joint Board, as well as proposals to control the size of the program.

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