AT&T withdraws from Lifeline program in Illinois

AT&T has sent notices to over 5,000 of its low-income subscribers in Illinois informing them that as of November the company will no longer participate in the Lifeline program in the state. This decision will hinder low-income citizens’ access to crucial telecom services.

The federal Lifeline low-income discount program provides a modest $9.25/month subsidy to almost 9 million low-income households to help pay for communications services. CWA has long supported the Lifeline program and urged the FCC to modernize the program to including broadband, which the Commission did in 2016. Since then, however, the Republican-controlled FCC has attacked the Lifeline program amid the protests of CWA, civil rights groups, public interest organizations, and others.

AT&T withdrew from the Lifeline program in 12 other states in 2017, and has petitioned the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for permission to end its program there. In Ohio, CWAers joined a group including the NAACP, Ohio Poverty Law Center, Alliance for Retired Americans, and ProgressOhio at an event at the Ohio Statehouse to call on the PUCO to reject AT&T's request to drop out of the Lifeline program. Accelerating the end of this program will have significant effects on low-income, older, and vulnerable populations for years to come.  

Links:

AT&T ends monthly federal subsidy for low-income landline customers (Chicago Tribune, Oct. 22, 2018)

Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers (FCC, accessed Oct. 25, 2018)

CWA voices support for Lifeline modernization (Speed Matters, Feb. 19, 2016)

Pai’s FCC continues policy approach: giveaways for Sinclair, attacks on the poor (Speed Matters, Oct. 27, 2018)

CWA, civil rights, public interest groups urge FCC to preserve Lifeline (Speed Matters, Feb. 26, 2018)

Community leaders call on PUCO to reject AT&T's request to drop out of Lifeline program (Speed Matters, Aug. 20, 2018)