Press Release

Public Knowledge Supports FCC Lifeline Modernization Proposal to Include Broadband

March 8, 2016 , , ,

Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn announced the FCC is circulating an agenda item modernizing the Lifeline program for a vote at the Commission’s March 31 open meeting. Last spring, the Commission proposed to update the low-income access telephone program, Lifeline, to also include broadband Internet access. Public Knowledge supports updating the Lifeline program to help make broadband more affordable for low-income Americans.

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

“Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn's Lifeline modernization proposal is a critical step toward making broadband affordable for all Americans. Access to broadband Internet service has become a necessity in modern America — we use broadband to communicate with loved ones, connect to education and health care, and to participate in our democracy and the global economy. Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn's proposal, if adopted, will help close the digital divide and connect low-income Americans to the essential communications medium of the 21st century.

“The proposal not only modernizes the Lifeline program, but it also takes significant steps to protect the integrity of the universal service fund and ensure Lifeline remains sustainable into the future. The proposal increases competition by allowing more broadband providers to offer Lifeline-supported service. It also establishes a third-party verifier and sets minimum broadband standards while eliminating virtually any potential for fraud. Finally, the plan ensures that the Lifeline program can absorb higher rates of participation as eligible households choose to subscribe to broadband Internet — many of them for the first time.

“Thirty years ago, the FCC correctly recognized that basic telephone service was critical for Americans to fully engage in our society and created the low-income telephone Lifeline program. Today, broadband is the essential communications service, and the FCC's plan to modernize the Lifeline program reflects that fact.”

You may view Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn's proposal here. For more information on the FCC’s Lifeline modernization proposal, please view our recent blog post, “Lifeline: Bringing Broadband into the 21st Century.”