FCC Chairman: Lifeline for broadband coming in ?not too distant future?

Lifeline for broadband is coming – and soon, according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. The FCC’s Lifeline program currently provides subsidies to low-income people for voice service and Wheeler’s proposal to update the program to include high-speed Internet is an important step toward fulfilling the Commission’s century-old commitment to universal communications access.

“The first principle of Lifeline reform is allowing the program to support both fixed and mobile broadband service,” Wheeler said during a speech about digital equity. “We will propose having minimum standards of service that Lifeline providers must deliver to receive funds.”

Speed Matters has long advocated modernizing the Lifeline program. CWA and a broad coalition of public interest and civil rights groups have been urging the FCC to update the Lifeline program to include broadband, making specific recommendations for minimum service standards in line with other universal service programs. Modernizing the program, the groups agreed, would help achieve the program’s goal of delivering modern communications services to low-income families, allowing full participation in 21st century life.

FCC chief: Internet subsidies for poor coming in ‘not too distant future’ (The Hill, Feb. 3, 2016)


Expand Lifeline to include broadband (Speed Matters, Mar. 16, 2015)


CWA, AFL-CIO to FCC: Lifeline program must include broadband services (Sept. 30, 2015)


Lifeline advocates offer five principles for a quality broadband program (June 11, 2015)