Expand Lifeline to include broadband

It’s long past time to update the federal Lifeline program, which provides telephone subsidies to low-income people, to support broadband service. And recent press reports indicated that the FCC may unveil such a proposal by this summer.

According to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, “The Lifeline program, established in the mid '80s, has been stuck in the mid '80s,” she said during an interview on C-SPAN. Clyburn, along with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, have all come out in support of expanding the program to cover Internet.

A proposal would likely build upon recommendations the FCC adopted five years ago in the National Broadband Plan, which says the FCC should, “ expand Lifeline Assistance and Link-Up America (a similar program) to make broadband more affordable for low-income households." And, together with the states, "should require eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) to permit Lifeline customers to apply Lifeline discounts to any service or package that includes basic voice service."

Speed Matters along with other consumer groups including the Benton Foundation support Lifeline expansion for broadband. You can keep on top of the issue here at Speed Matters, as well as at Benton’s Lifeline Modernization page.

FCC Aims to Subsidize Internet Service for the Poor (National Journal, Mar. 11, 2015)

 Is It Time For Lifeline To Include Broadband? (Benton Foundation, Mar. 13, 2015)

Lifeline Modernization (Benton website)