FCC to reform and modernize Lifeline program for low-income families

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Monday the reformation and modernization of the Lifeline program. The revamped program will ensure affordable phone service is available to low-income families. Lifeline is a “universal service program that fulfills Congress’s mandate to ensure the availability of communications to all Americans.” The percentage of low-income households with phone service has increased dramatically since the program began in 1985, from 80% to nearly 92% last year. The FCC is looking to create a number of databases and protocols to end carrier abuse of the program. One such measure will be the creation of an eligibility database from governmental data sources to automate eligibility of initial and ongoing Lifeline participants. The move will “reduce the potential for fraud while cutting red tape for consumers and providers.” Lifeline is set to be revamped by no later than the end of 2013.
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