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FCC Provides Low-Income Families Subsidized Internet

As part of its ongoing strategy to provide fast Internet to every home in America, the FCC made an addendum to the Lifeline service that covers Internet access.

Following the change, users eligible for Lifeline can use it to help pay for either mobile or Internet service, or for a bundle package containing both. Not only will Lifeline help to cover the cost of the Internet service, but the FCC plans to work with ISPs to ensure that the Internet service provided to Lifeline users is up to a minimum performance level.

"Universal access to affordable communications is a bedrock principle on which the FCC has stood since its creation in 1934. For more than 30 years, the Lifeline program has been one important way the agency sought to achieve this worthy goal by helping low-income consumers afford phone service. Today, we take the next major step in fostering the FCC’s commitment to universal service by modernizing Lifeline to support broadband and refocusing the program to meet the 21st century’s communications challenges," said FCC Chairman Wheeler.

The Internet provided to Lifeline users must be capable of 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds, at least. The minimum data usage allowance for these home Internet services is currently set at 150 GB, but the FCC intends to work to extend that over time.

The FCC is setting minimum standards for mobile broadband services covered by Lifeline. They need to provide at least 500 MB of 3G data per month by December 1, 2016. This amount will grow steadily over the next few years to 1 GB by December 1, 2017, and then up to 2 GB per month toward the end of 2018.

The amount of talk time on these plans will grow similarly over that same time period, starting at 500 minute per month in December 1, 2016, to 750 minutes per month on December 1, 2017, and then finally up to 1,000 minutes by December 1, 2018. To help push industry adoption, the FCC plans to scale down Lifeline support for standalone voice plans over the next few years until it finally ends support on December 1, 2021.

"To minimize impact on ratepayers, the Order establishes, for the first time, a Lifeline budget mechanism. It sets budget of $2.25 billion, indexed to inflation. This is a ceiling sufficient to allow for increased participation generated by support for broadband service. The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau will be required to notify the Commission when spending reaches 90 percent of the budget and to prepare an analysis of the causes of spending growth, followed by full Commission action within 6 months. This mechanism will ensure that the Commission has the notice and comprehensive information it needs to determine the reasons for growth in the program and to promptly make any necessary changes to the program to keep in on sound financial footing," said Wheeler.

Although the changes made to Lifeline gives users more options for attaining Internet service, the FCC did not increase the current maximum $9.25 monthly household subsidy limit. This was necessary to keep the cost of the program from becoming a burden on tax payers. As a result, the financial aid from Lifeline will likely be sufficient to help with only a single service or bundle package.

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  • SinxarKnights
    $9.25 monthly limit, that means the gov will pay the ISP $9.25 per household with this service?

    If so... wow! The cheapest internet you can get where I live in WV is $130 for 10/5. So yea...
    Reply
  • thor220
    $9.25 monthly limit, that means the gov will pay the ISP $9.25 per household with this service?

    If so... wow! The cheapest internet you can get where I live in WV is $130 for 10/5. So yea...

    Yeah, I'd wish they'd go after these price gouging monopolies before adding subsidies.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    If we're paying for it, I would like to see conclusive evidence that data caps are at all necessary.

    I also don't want to see "cord-cutters" penalized with higher prices for higher caps because they use more bandwidth to get the same news and entertainment online instead of by cable.

    Hell, I'd take a wild step and even suggest the government investigates the feasibility of forcibly buying all of the cable over the entire country. Then leasing the bandwidth back to interested parties to promote small business opportunities where local governments have sweet heart deals with big corps. Remember, I am merely suggesting that the idea is investigated thoroughly.

    If anyone has any better ideas on how to actually see improvement in the quality, rather than fat cats lining their pockets and sending millions of dollars to politicians, I'm all ears (eyes in this case but that'd read funny).
    Reply
  • rayden54
    I'm curious. What happens to the people who live in an area where there is no service available at 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps up? Where I live internet means $50/month for < 2 Mbps down/15 Kbps up. Do they simply not qualify?

    Areas without available broadband also tend to be more isolated which means they'd have an even greater need for a "lifeline."

    Are they hoping the possibility of getting a subsidy will convince them to lay new lines? Given that they haven't made any improvements in almost 8 years, I doubt that'll happen.

    Personally, that's what I'd much rather them subsidize.
    Reply
  • svan71
    20 trillion in debt folks, i guess people in low income housing collecting food stamps and Obamacare need free internet along with a free phone...its all FREE.
    Reply
  • SinxarKnights
    17757182 said:
    20 trillion in debt folks, i guess people in low income housing collecting food stamps and Obamacare need free internet along with a free phone...its all FREE.

    LoL, are you jealous of poor people? You could always switch to a minimum wage part-time job where you don't make enough to afford food and rent. There are options here.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    17757243 said:
    17757182 said:
    20 trillion in debt folks, i guess people in low income housing collecting food stamps and Obamacare need free internet along with a free phone...its all FREE.

    LoL, are you jealous of poor people? You could always switch to a minimum wage part-time job where you don't make enough to afford food and rent. There are options here.

    I know, right? That number thrown around by itself is typically a scare tactic meant for the uninformed. My cousin is still running power lines to places in the U.S. that have never had it before. More water testing proves many areas across the U.S. have unacceptable levels of lead in their drinking water. I really think we're just touching the tip of the iceberg on that issue.

    The only conceivable reason to suggest the poor shouldn't have access to broadband is to keep them uninformed and unable to share their experiences with the rest of the world.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    If we're paying for it, I would like to see conclusive evidence that data caps are at all necessary.

    Of course caps aren't necessary. Most ISPs have a cap of around 250-300GB/mo. And wouldn't you know it, if you watched three or four hours of Netflix a night, that'd take up about 250-300GB/mo. There's a reason those numbers are identical. It's because the ONLY reason caps exist is so that you can't rely on only streaming for all of your media and are obligated to pay for your ISP's cable package, as well.

    Having to throttle your bandwidth during peak hours, I can kind of get that. It's still embarrassing, but there's technical reasons for that. But data caps are total crap. It makes no sense that an ISP is only able to push x-amount of bytes to your house. Having to push too much bandwidth to too many people at the same time, yeah, that can pose a problem. But there is no such thing as a magic number of bytes that is the upper limit of what an ISP can deliver to your house. It's purely there so they can either charge you more for their cable package, or charge you more for not using their cable package.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    Point being, I want them to go on record stating why they think its necessary, so it can be picked apart publicly.
    Reply
  • Borisblade7
    $9.25 monthly limit, that means the gov will pay the ISP $9.25 per household with this service?

    If so... wow! The cheapest internet you can get where I live in WV is $130 for 10/5. So yea...


    It varies massively, you can get plans like that for like $30 here, im paying $45 for 40/10. Many other countries have it dirt cheap or free funny enough. The monopolies are to blame here.

    I can get one company or nothing where I am at now, and until Google Fiber came around to many areas nearby, they were raising prices nearly 20% every year while not really increasing speeds. Since google came in, they have really had to finally compete and watch their prices, and their speeds have gone up massively.
    Reply