Press Release

Public Interest Groups and Broadband Providers File Letter to FCC Urging Lifeline Modernization

March 1, 2016 , , ,

Today, Public Knowledge joined a broad cross-section of public interest groups and broadband providers in a letter to support the Federal Communications Commission’s goal of bringing the Lifeline phone subsidy program into the modern era by extending the subsidy to broadband service.

The letter reflects the almost universal support in the FCC’s record in this proceeding that Lifeline should offer the option of a broadband subsidy to recognize the critical role that Internet access plays in society. In the letter, 17 public interest groups and six broadband providers agree that “it is time that Lifeline eligible consumers have the opportunity to use their benefit to reduce the cost of subscribing to broadband Internet access service.”

The signatories urge the FCC to strengthen the program and reduce costs by using a third-party verifier/administrator to determine consumer eligibility. They also encourage the FCC to adopt a uniform national policy for authorizing providers that would encourage maximum participation by providers while also protecting the integrity of the Lifeline program and the Universal Service Fund. This letter follows the FCC’s June 2015 Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that considered extending Lifeline to broadband.

The following statement can be attributed to Phillip Berenbroick, Counsel for Government Affairs at Public Knowledge:

“There is near unanimous agreement among broadband providers, public interest advocates, and public officials from all levels of government that the FCC should modernize the Lifeline program to make broadband Internet access more affordable for low-income Americans struggling to get online. Government reports demonstrate that cost is a significant factor preventing Americans from going online to access education, employment, job training, and health care resources. This letter reflects that recognition and the overwhelming consensus that the Commission should move forward to update the Lifeline program to support access to modern communications services.”

You may view the letter here.