Lifeline Helps Low-Income Americans Get Internet Broadband

Lifeline will pay $9.25 toward Your Monthly Internet Bill

The Lifeline program has been helping tens of millions low-income Americans afford basic phone services since 1985.

Established by Ronald Reagan Administration and managed by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) the Lifeline is also known as the Phone Bill Assistance program.

The purpose of Lifeline has always been to ensure that all Americans have access to phone service, thus enabling them to search for jobs, call for healthcare and emergency services when needed, and connect to family and friends.

But the way Americans are communicating and connecting is changing. More individuals and households are using smartphones and Internet to reach the services they need or keep in touch with family and friends.

The FCC recognized the change and launched a Low-Income Broadband Pilot Program to figure out how to structure Lifeline best to include financial help for Internet broadband access to all qualifying consumers.

As a result, the FCC decided to expand Lifeline program to include Internet bill assistance. The Internet bill assistance will help low-income Americans connect to Internet broadband services that can offer at least 10 megabits per second download speed.

The Federal financial support to qualifying consumers is set at $9.25 per month. This will help millions underprivileged individuals and families to lower their monthly communication bills.

The modernized Lifeline offers all qualifying low-income American consumers to apply the $9.25 financial support at their choice to:

  • Stand-alone mobile service,
  • Fixed broad band service, or
  • Bundled voice and data service packages

Total Lifeline budget is set at $2,25 billion, an 80% increase of the current spending. With such a budget, FCC expects increased participation in Lifeline marketplace from both sides – communication providers and qualifying low-income consumers.

FCC Lifeline program allows States to have their own Lifeline subsidies and requires providers to get permission from the State they operate in to receive the financial subsidy.

Sources: FCC