Extreme Makeover - USF: Looking At Lifeline/Link Up

Source: CommLawBlog
Coverage Type: analysis
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States

As part of its ongoing effort to modernize (and rationalize) the various elements of the Universal Service Fund (USF), the Federal Communications Commission has now turned its attention to Lifeline and Link Up.

These two programs make up USF’s Low Income component, which seeks to make telecommunications accessible to those with low incomes. In a 98-page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) released March 4, the FCC has set out a number of proposals for possibly significant changes to its current approach. Many of those proposals implement recommendations from the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service (which we reported on here last fall), the Government Accountability Office, and the National Broadband Plan. The scope of the NPRM suggests that the FCC recognizes the daunting nature of the challenge it is undertaking. Whether -- and if so, when -- the FCC will ever be able to claim that it has met that challenge remains to be seen. But at least the FCC has made the first move in its quest.

The focal points of the FCC’s Lifeline/Link Up reform efforts described in the NPRM are:

  • eliminating fraud, waste and abuse;
  • capping the Low Income Fund;
  • improving program administration; and
  • modernizing Lifeline and Link Up (including reimbursement for broadband, of course).



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