December 2, 2016, marks a new beginning for the Federal Lifeline Assistance Program (Lifeline), transforming it from a voice-only program to include high-speed broadband. Before today, Lifeline provided a monthly discount on landline or wireless phone service to eligible low-income households.
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new order facilitates market entry for broadband providers and also:
• Introduces Lifeline subsidies for broadband services, but maintains the monthly per-household Lifeline subsidy of $9.25.
• Imposes graduated minimum fixed and mobile broadband service standards and minimum mobile voice minute requirements.
• Establishes a National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier database to determine Lifeline eligibility.
Under the FCC’s new rules, an eligible low-income customer may choose to have his or her Lifeline subsidy applied to voice service or broadband service, if available. The FCC’s policy states that only one Lifeline subsidy may be provided per household, meaning that a customer cannot apply the discount to both a fixed and a wireless service, nor can multiple individuals within a household receive the subsidy.
The Lifeline Program has been streamlined to limit the eligibility criteria to:
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• Federal Public Housing Assistance
• The Veteran’s Pension or Survivor’s Pension benefit
• Income-based eligibility
Consumers at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and those who qualified previously through any of the Tribal criteria will continue to be eligible for a Lifeline Program benefit. To see all service offerings, contact your provider of choice that is authorized to provide Lifeline discounts.
For more information about Lifeline, visit the PSC’s website at www.floridapsc.com or www.usac.org. Consumers can also call their local provider for updated information.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.
Follow the PSC on Twitter, @floridapsc.