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?”

Verizon and Public Interest Groups Agree on TracFone Deal Conditions

Public-interest groups have agreed to drop their challenge to Verizon's proposed $6.9 billion purchase of TracFone Wireless after the company agreed with their conditions. Public Knowledge, Access Humboldt, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, the California Center for Rural Policy, and Communications Workers of America submitted a letter to the Federal Communications Commission August 11 withdrawing their objections to the deal, contingent on the Federal Communications C

Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel's Response to Lawmakers Regarding the GAO Lifeline Report

In the United States, we need to connect 100 percent of our households to broadband. The Lifeline program remains a valuable tool for helping achieve this goal, by making internet access more affordable.

FCC Announces Updated Lifeline Minimum Service Standards and Indexed Budget Amount

The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau announces updated minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported services as required by the 2016 Lifeline Order. Absent action, beginning December 1, 2021, the Lifeline minimum service standard for mobile broadband data capacity will increase to 18 GB per month pursuant to the calculations set out in the FCC’s rules and the 2016 Lifeline Order. The Lifeline minimum service standard for mobile voice service will remain unchanged, at 1000 minutes per month.

FCC Announces County Conditional Forbearance from Lifeline

The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau announces the counties in which conditional forbearance from the obligation to offer Lifeline-supported voice service applies, pursuant to the Commission’s 2016 Lifeline Order. This forbearance applies only to the Lifeline voice obligation of eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that are designated for purposes of receiving both high-cost and Lifeline support, and not to Lifeline-only ETCs. The Bureau identifies the counties in which certain competitive conditions are met. In particular, the FCC grants forbearance fr

Democratic Senators Push FCC to Scrutinize Verizon’s Tracfone Acquisition & Secure Commitments to Prioritize Consumers

Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) pressed the Federal Communications Commission to probe Verizon’s proposed acquisition of TracFone and secure specific commitments from the company to ensure that this acquisition will not harm consumers. In the $6.9 billion transaction, Verizon would acquire one of the largest operators of the Lifeline program which provides free or discounted internet and affordable prepaid mobile phone services to low-income Americans.

2016 Called. It Wants to Know How Lifeline is Doing

In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a comprehensive reform and modernization of its Lifeline program. For the first time, the FCC included broadband as a supported service in the program, allowing support for stand-alone mobile (think cell phone) or fixed broadband Internet access service (think home broadband service delivered over a wire), as well as bundles including fixed or mobile voice and broadband. But the 2016 decision also set out to zero-out support for voice-only services.

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.