The FCC has modernized and reformed its Lifeline program to help low-income consumers afford Internet access. Although Internet access is necessary for full and meaningful participation in society, 43 percent of households say they can’t afford it.
To help close this digital divide, the revamped Lifeline will support stand-alone broadband service as bundled voice and data service packages. New provisions also encourage competitive service options; combat waste, fraud, and abuse; and increase the program’s efficiency. Specifically, Lifeline will:
● Provide support for robust broadband, phase in a mobile broadband requirement over five years, and help close the homework gap by promoting offers of mobile devices with wi-fi and hotspot functionality.
● Ensure that subscribers receive services meeting 21st-century needs with minimum standards for speed and usage allowance.
● Encourage participation by broadband providers, thereby increasing availability and consumer choice. The program will also establish a third-party National Eligibility Verifier.
● Build on 2012 reforms to close remaining vulnerabilities to waste, fraud, and abuse. This includes refining the list of federal programs that may be used to validate Lifeline eligibility and increasing transparency by making program data publicly available and understandable.
● Establish a budget mechanism to minimize impact on ratepayers. The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau is required to notify the Commission when spending reaches 90 percent of the $2.25 billion budget.
● Retain tribal lands designation for the Cherokee Outlet (OK), where residents will continue to receive enhanced Tribal Lifeline support.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LIFELINE GO TO WWW.TECHLEARNING.COM/MAY16