OTI Applauds Modernization of Lifeline Program to Support Broadband

Press Release
March 31, 2016

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an Order to modernize the Lifeline program, including standalone broadband for the first time in the list of supported services and implementing minimum standards for Lifeline providers to ensure participants have access to robust broadband service. Lifeline is a federal subsidy that has offered discounted phone service to eligible low-income Americans since 1985. OTI strongly supports today’s reforms.

The following statement can be attributed to Sarah Morris, Senior Counsel and Director of Open Internet Policy at New America’s Open Technology Institute:

“Access to broadband is no longer a luxury—it is essential to function in society today. Unfortunately, many of country’s most vulnerable populations lack access to even basic service, and cost is frequently identified as the primary barrier. The FCC’s decision to update its Lifeline program means that broadband may now be within reach for millions more broadband users. For decades, the Lifeline program has provided critical support for phone service, and today’s Order reflects the evolving communications needs of low-income households.

We appreciate the important work that went into this Order, and welcome the thoughtful reforms that the FCC adopted today. While other barriers to broadband adoption remain, the Lifeline program represents the only federal program designed specifically to reduce direct costs for communications access, and we applaud the FCC’s action today to modernize it.”

The following statement can be attributed to Joshua Stager, policy counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute:

"Today's order includes prudent reforms that ensure Lifeline will remain a fiscally responsible ladder out of poverty. The FCC has taken the important step of creating a third-party verifier, meaning telecom companies will no longer be responsible for determining who is eligible for Lifeline subsidies. As Chairman Wheeler explained, the fox is no longer guarding the hen house. This crucial change, coupled with the 2012 reforms that have already saved $2.75 billion, puts the Lifeline program on sound fiscal footing."