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?”

FCC Releases Report on the State of the Lifeline Marketplace

In this report, the Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau provides a summary of the state of the Lifeline marketplace as directed by the 2016 Lifeline Order.

Verizon argues for TracFone purchase to Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel

The Federal Communications Commission is still reviewing Verizon’s proposed purchase of TracFone Wireless from América Móvil. Verizon CEO of the Consumer Group, Ronan Dunne, and TracFone CEO, Eduardo Diaz Corona, met with Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to try and convince her that the transaction is in the public interest. Their main argument is that a combined Verizon/TracFone will introduce a third facilities-based provider in the prepaid segment to compete against T-Mobile’s Metro and AT&T’s Cricket.

Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Connect SNAP Recipients to Internet

Reps Elaine Luria (D-VA) and John Katko (R-NY) introduced the Ensuring Phone and Internet Access for SNAP Recipients Act of 2021 (H.R.4275). This bipartisan bill would lower the cost of phone and internet access for households that benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP recipients automatically qualify for the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline Program, which offers discounted phone and internet service.

FCC Extends Lifeline Waivers to September 30, 2021

In response to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau has waived certain Lifeline program rules in seven previous Orders to provide necessary relief for low-income households. Although vaccination efforts have been underway for several months and overall cases have decreased, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt by many Americans.

Smith Bagley Requests Lifeline Waiver Extension

Smith Bagley, commercial mobile wireless operator, has asked the Federal Communications Commission for a six-month extension of the Lifeline rule waivers (currently scheduled to expire June 30, 2021) through December 31, 2021. Smith Bagley provides Lifeline service in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to over 60,000 people, more than 50,000 of whom live in low-income households on the Navajo, Hopi, White Mountain Apache, Zuni, and Ramah Navajo Tribal lands. Smith Bagley argues that: 1) The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Will Continue for Many More Months and 2) COVID-19 Has Continued to Severe

National Lifeline Association Seeks FCC Rulemaking

The National Lifeline Association urged the Federal Communications Commission to expeditiously release a Public Notice seeking comment on the association's Petition for Rulemaking so that others can comment on it and the FCC can build a record to take the necessary actions to transition the Lifeline program into a program that is post-Emergency Broadband Benefit Program ready. The FCC should not work in a linear fashion, but rather consider important improvements to the Lifeline program now so that those improvements can be in place when the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program funding runs

Sen Schatz Leads Group Of 20 Sens In Calling On Federal Agencies To Share Data, Work Together To Expand Access To High-Speed Internet

Sen Brian Schatz (D-HI) led a group of 20 senators in calling on the leaders of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to share data to identify communities without high-speed internet access and work together to improve broadband connectivity. In a letter to the agency leaders, the senators also called on them to collaborate and find ways to ensure families in need also have information on accessing Lifeline, an existing federal phone and internet service program. “We urge HUD and USDA t

FCC Announces Census Blocks in Which Eligible Lifeline Consumers Can Continue To Receive Discounted Voice-Only Lifeline Services

The Federal Communications Commission announces those Census blocks where Lifeline support for voice-only service will continue at $5.25 per month from Dec 1, 2021 through Nov 30, 2022. These Census blocks can be found on the Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) website.

A Rural-Urban Broadband Divide, but Not the One You Think Of

Veterans of the nation’s decade-long efforts to extend the nation’s broadband footprint worry that President Joe Biden's new plan carries the same bias of its predecessors: Billions will be spent to extend the internet infrastructure to the farthest reaches of rural America, where few people live, and little will be devoted to connecting millions of urban families who live in areas with high-speed service that they cannot afford. About 81 percent of rural households are plugged into broadband, compared with about 86 percent in urban areas, according to Census Bureau data.

Rep Butterfield Introduces Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act

Rep G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-01) introduced the Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act (HR 3376) to increase access to and speed the deployment of broadband to households and small businesses currently without this vital service. The bill will enable more broadband service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund (USF) programs by eliminating an outdated requirement that only internet service providers designated as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) may receive USF dollars.