Lifeline/Low-Income Consumers

A April 2013 Congressional hearing made us think – “Why don’t we make it easy for people to follow developments in the FCC’s Lifeline program?”

2021 – Closing the Homework Gap Together

Four specific steps government, with industry’s cooperation, can take to make availability and affordability a reality for every American:

Connectivity in the Time of COVID

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the necessity of broadband became incontrovertible. Attending school, working from home, visiting a doctor, and accessing government services all relied on reliable broadband connections. For many, bridging the digital divide emerged as an even-more-urgent priority. We’ve tracked the stories that best explain the complexities of the digital divide and the crucial policy responses. Here’s our list. 

D.C. Circuit Denies Petition for Review of Lifeline Order

The National Lifeline Association challenged the Federal Communications Commission's November 2019 Lifeline order which restored the role of states in designating eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) to participate in the Lifeline program, clarified the obligations of participating carriers, and took steps to improve compliance by Lifeline ETCs and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. The issue in this case concerns support payments to ETCs for prepaid Lifeline subscribers in cure periods because of their non-usage of the service.

Lifeline Program Data Collection

The Federal Communications Commission is directing a group of mobile service providers to respond to a questionnaire about customer usage and costs. The responses of this group, encompassing a significant portion of the Lifeline marketplace by subscribership, will aid the development of the State of the Lifeline Marketplace Report. The FCC also expects this data to inform the policy choices before the FCC regarding the mobile broadband minimum service standards—standards established in 2016 and annually updated.

The Cost Of Broadband Is Too Damned High

How much do consumers pay for internet service in the United States? The question might seem relatively simple, but the answer has stymied the federal government for years—because no agency collects this data. Throughout 2020, my organization, New America’s Open Technology Institute, published the Cost of Connectivity series to crack open the black box of internet pricing.


Universal Service Administrative Company

Wed, 12/09/2020 - 20:00 to 21:00

Learn more about FCC Form 555. This training will provide a walkthrough of the FCC Form 555 and review form resources. USAC will also discuss recent Lifeline changes, including the NLAD 508 Redesign.

During the webinar, you will be able to ask questions and participate in a dialogue with USAC and service providers throughout the industry. 

During this training, the Lifeline Program staff will discuss: 

  • Announcements

  • FCC Form 555

  • Live Audience Q&A

NTCA discusses phasedown of Lifeline support for voice-only customers

In meetings with Federal Communications Commission staff, NTCA discussed an issue identified recently related to the phasedown of Lifeline support for voice-only customers and its interplay with cost recovery under the High-Cost universal service program. Specifically, for many eligible telecommunications carriers (“ETCs”), the reduction of the Lifeline subsidy for such customers to $5.25 per month effective December 1, 2020, precludes recovery of the full amount of the Subscriber Line Charge (“SLC”), and it appears that these shortfalls may be unrecoverable through the High-Cost program.

Ajit Pai quietly changes landscape for low-income mobile subscribers before he departs

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has been extremely popular with the telecom companies he’s regulated for the last four years, but one corner of the industry will not be sad to see the chairman step down. The carriers that provide mobile service to the nation’s neediest citizens say Pai is trampling them on his way out the door while pulling critical service away from those hit hardest by this year’s economic downturn. Lifeline providers say an FCC order that took effect December 1 will force them to stop offering free data service to qualified low-income customers.

Lifeline Groups Seek Court Stay of Service Standard Increase

The National Lifeline Association and Assist Wireless have asked a federal court to stay the Dec. 1 trigger for the Federal Communications Commission's increase of the mobile broadband minimum service standard in the Lifeline subsidy program from 3 GB to 4.5 GB. The groups first petitioned the FCC for a stay, but that was denied.  The petitioners told the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that absent the emergency stay, they would suffer irreparable harm.

National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier Launches in California

The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau announced the full launch of the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) in California, effective December 18, 2020.